July 5, 2019 (MLN): The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) with the approval of Federal Government has released a rule book for search and seizure of properties which shall come into force at once.
These set or rules cover everything step by step, from the procedure of search and seizure to guidelines on search of places and buildings by force, to search of persons and electronic devices.
The rule book also covers the rights and obligations of investigating officers and persons being searched as well as instructions regarding safe custody of seized items, its protection and penalty in case of non-compliance with these rules.
Under these rules, the investigating officer is obliged to identify himself either by name or by official identification documents before conducting the search and after the search, he must prepare a seizure memo in the form as provided in the Schedule at the spot
He must also maintain a case diary of proceedings, setting forth details of day to day proceedings in the investigation and shall record concisely and clearly all steps taken by the team during the course of investigation. This must include description of all documents seized and all statements recorded.
In addition to this, the investigating officer shall, prior to carrying out search of any building, place, vessel and vehicle and other enclosed places shall take assistance from the local police for affecting search.
On another note, the occupant of the house, building, office, place, vessel or vehicle searched, including the person in charge of such vessel, vehicle etc. shall have the right-
- to see the relevant authorization of investigating officer;
- to be present during the search and seizure;
- to have a copy of any statement recorded during search and seizure..
In case where documents or electronic devices are seized during a search, the investigating officer must return the items not later than the thirtieth day of the seizure.
However, in case that the seized items prove to have evidentiary value or prove to be necessary for the investigation, they shall not be returned until the investigation has been concluded.
Finally, in case of non-compliance with these rules, the person accused shall be punished in accordance with section 40A of the Act.
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