The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the government does not have powers to seize or attach properties of criminals who commit offences within the territory of India.

A bench of Justices V.S. Sirpurkar and S.S. Nijjar held in a judgement that the forfeiture of such ill-gotten property can be done only in cases where the same has been accumulated in crimes having international ramifications. Such a seizure can be done provided there is a treaty between India and the contracting country, the apex court said.

The apex court passed the judgement while dismissing the appeal filed by Madhya Pradesh government which had confiscated the properties of Balram Mihani, an alleged criminal who reportedly accumulated huge assets through his criminal dealing purportedly in the State.

The State had chosen to confiscate the property by invoking Chapter VII-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 which authorised the government to confiscate properties of criminals under exceptional circumstances.

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