Re: Legal Opinion on Requisition of Papers and Documents by Bureau of Anti Corruption
We refer to your letter No. ……………….. dated January 22, 2002 on the above subject.
We have perused the papers/documents referred to us.
We understand that the Bureau of Anti Corruption vide Memo No. 1215 dated 14.01.2003 has requested the Bank to send them copies of paper/documents relating to, amongst other things, availing of alternative cash incentive against export made by M/s. Company 1, M/s. Company 2 and M/s. Company 3.
In such a situation, you have sought our opinion on the Bank’s next course of action.
Our opinion is as follows:
Section 3(2) of the Anti-Corruption Act, 1957 reads as follows:
“Subject to any orders which the Government may make in this behalf, officers of the Bureau shall have throughout Bangladesh in relation to the enquiry into, and investigation of, such offences all powers of seizure, search and arrest of persons concerned in such offences and all other powers, duties, privileges and liabilities which the police officers in Bangladesh have in connection with the investigation of such offences.”
However, neither the Bankers’ Books Evidence Act, 1891 nor the Police Act, 1861 empowers a police officer to require any information regarding the bank account from the Bank without an order of the Court.
In this regard, section 94 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 provides as follows:
“(1) Whenever any Court, or any officer in charge of a police-station considers that the production of any document or other thing is necessary or desirable for the purposes of any investigation, inquiry, trial or other proceeding under this Code by or before such Court or officer, such Court may issue a summons, or such officer a written order, to the person in whose possession or power such document or thing is believed to be, requiring him to attend and produce it, or to produce it, at the time and place stated in the summons or order:
Provided that no such officer shall issue any such order requiring the production of any document or other thing which is in the custody of a bank or banker as defined in the Bankers’ Books Evidence Act, 1891 (XVIII of 1891), and relates, or might disclose any information which relates, to the bank account of any person except, –
(a) for the purpose of investigating an offence under sections 403, 406, 408 and 409 and sections 421 to 424 (both inclusive) and sections 465 to 477A (both inclusive) of the Penal Code, with the prior permission in writing of a Sessions Judge; and
(b) in other cases, with the prior permission in writing of the High Court Division.
(2) Any person required under this section merely to produce a document or other thing shall be deemed to have complied with the requisition if he causes such document or thing to be produced instead of attending personally to produce the same.”
The restriction relating to non-disclosure applies to banker’s books, which, according to section 2(3) of the Bankers’ Books Evidence Act, 1891 include ledgers, day-books, cash-books, account-books and all other books used in the ordinary business of the Bank.
Considering the above provisions of law, we are of the opinion that in the absence of written permission from the relevant Court of law, Bank is not legally obliged to hand over the records which have been sought by the Bureau of Anti-Corruption relating to, inter alia, availing of alternative cash incentive against export made by M/s. Company 1, M/s. Company 2 and M/s. Company 3. The Bank should inform the Bureau of Anti Corruption about its duties regarding non-disclosure of customer information as laid down in section 94 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 read with Section 2(3) of the Bankers’ Books Evidence Act, 1891.
However, if the Bureau of Anti-Corruption can produce necessary order from the concerned Court of law as required under section 94 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, then the Bank will be required to produce such documents as are required by the order.
If you have any query, please do not hesitate to contact the undersigned.
For: “The Lawyers & Jurists”