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34H. Search and seizure.- (1) Where the Chairperson of the Authority in consequence of information in his possession, has reason to believe that—
(a ) any person who has been required under sub section (2) of Sec. 33 to produce, or cause to be produced, any books, accounts or other documents in his custody or power has omitted or failed to produce, or cause to be produced, such books, accounts or other documents, or
(b) any person to whom a requisition to produce any books, accounts or other documents as aforesaid has been or might be issued will not, or would not, produce or cause to be produced, any books, accounts or other documents which will be useful for, or relevant to an investigation under sub section (1) of Section 33 or an inspection under sub section (1A) of that section, or
(c) a contravention of any provision of this Act has been committed or is likely to be committed by an insurer, or
(d) any claim which is due to be settled by an insurer, has been or is likely to be settled at a figure higher than a reasonable amount, or
(e) any claim which is due to be settled by an insurer, has been or is likely to be rejected or settled at a figure lower than a reasonable amount,
(f) any illegal rebate or commission has been paid or is likely to be paid by an insurer, or
(g) any books, accounts, receipts, vouchers, survey reports or other documents, belonging to an insurer are likely to be tampered with, falsified or manufactured, he may authorise any subordinate officer of his, not lower in rank than an officer authorized by the Authority (hereafter referred to as the authorised officer) to-
(i) enter and search any building or place where he has reason to suspect that such books, accounts or other documents, or any books or papers relating to any claim, rebate or commission or any receipts, vouchers, reports or other documents are kept;
(ii) break open the lock of any door, box, locker, safe, almirah or other receptacle for exercising the powers conferred by C1ause (i) where the keys thereof are not available;
(iii) seize all or any such books, accounts or other documents found as a result of such search;
(iv) place marks of identification on such books, accounts or other documents or make or cause to be made extracts or copies there from.
(2) The authorised officer may requisition the services of any police officer or of any officer of the Central Government, or of both, to assist him for all or any of the purposes specified in sub section (1) and it shall be the duty of every such officer to comply with such requisition.
(3) The authorised officer may, where it is not practicable to seize any such book, account or other document, specified in sub-section (1), serve an order on the person who is in immediate possession or control thereof that he shall not remove, part with or otherwise deal with it except with the previous permission of such officer and such officer may take such steps as may be necessary for ensuring compliance with this sub section.
(4) The authonsed officer may, during the course of the search or seizure, examine on oath any person who is found to be in possession or control of any books, accounts or other documents, and any statement made by such person during such examination may thereafter be used in evidence in any proceeding under this Act.
(5) The books, accounts, papers, receipts, vouchers, reports, or other documents seized under subsection (1) shall not be retained by the authorised officer for a period exceeding one hundred and eighty days from the date of the seizure unless the reasons for retaining the same recorded by him in writing and the approval of the Chairperson of the Authority for such retention is obtained:
Provided that the Chairperson of the Authority shall not authorise the retention of the books, accounts, papers, receipts, vouchers, reports, or other documents for a period exceeding thirty days after all the proceedings under this Act for which the books, accounts, papers, receipts, vouchers, or other documents are relevant are completed.
(6) The person from whose custody any books, accounts, papers, receipts, vouchers, reports, or other documents are seized under sub-section (1) may make copies thereof, or take extracts there from, in the presence of the authorised officer or any other person empowered by him in this behalf at such place and Idle as the authorised officer may appoint in this behalf.
(7) If a person legally entitled to the books, accounts, papers, receipts, vouchers, reports, or other documents seized under sub section (1) objects for any reason to the approval given by the Chairperson of the Authority under sub section (5), he may make an application to the Central Government stating therein the reasons for such objection and requesting for the return of the books, accounts, papers, receipts, vouchers, reports, or other documents.
(8) On receipt of the application under sub section (7) the Central Government may, after giving the applicant an opportunity of being heard, pass such orders as it thinks fit.
(9) The provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (5 of 1898), relating to searchers and seizures shall apply, so far as may be, to every search and seizure made under sub section (1).
(10) The Central Government may, by notification in the official Gazette, make rules in relation to any search or seizure under this section; in particular, and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing power, such rules may provide for the procedure to be followed by the authorised officer,—
(i) for obtaining ingress into such building or place to be searched where free ingress thereto is not available;
(ii) for ensuring safe custody of any books, accounts, papers, receipts, vouchers, reports, or other documents seized under this section.
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