A single-judge bench consisting of Hon’ble Justice Battu Devananda gave orders on the writ petition no. 6535 of 2021 in L Ramesh v. The State of Andhra Pradesh. The writ petition was filed against the action of Respondent No. 3 – The Commissioner, in not considering an appeal filed by the Petitioner against the order of Respondent No. 2 – The Superintendent of Police in confiscating his vehicle – a Mahindra Imperio Truck and not releasing the same in connection with the crime as illegal, arbitrary and violative of the principles of natural justice.
In the present case, the Petitioner is the owner of the Mahindra Imperio Truck Union Vehicle bearing no. AP 39 TJ 2417which is used as a public transport vehicle for earning his livelihood. On 08.08.2020 one Bogireddy Chandra and Mandapalli Nageswarao hired the Petitioner’s vehicle for the purpose of marriage in their home. On 09.8.2020, Respondent No. 4 – The Station House Officer seized the Petitioner’s vehicle in pursuance of its alleged involvement in illegal transportation of liquor bottles without valid permission and registered a case under section 34(a) of the A.P. Excise (Amendment) Act, 2020. Respondent No. 4 produced the vehicle to Respondent No. 2 who is a competent authority to confiscate the seized vehicle. Respondent No. 2 issued a show-cause notice to the Petitioner calling for an explanation within 15 days from the date of receipt of the said notice, but the Petitioner was unable to submit an explanation within the given period and as a consequence, Respondent No. 2 confiscated the Petitioner’s vehicle. Subsequent to the confiscation, the Petitioner appealed before Respondent No. 3 on 04.01.2021, but no orders have been passed till today. Aggrieved by the same, the petitioner filed a writ petition before the Andhra Pradesh High court challenging the orders of Respondent No. 2 in confiscating his vehicle and the actions of Respondent No. 3 in not considering his appeal as illegal, arbitrary, and violative of the principles of natural justice.
The learned counsel appearing for the Petitioner submitted before the court that the Petitioner is an illiterate person without any knowledge about the proceedings under the Excise Act and hence he could not submit an explanation within the stipulated time period. Further, he added that the vehicle was the only source of livelihood of the Petitioner and was getting spoiled in the police station on account of it being kept idle. The livelihood of the petitioner was terribly affected due to his truck being under the custody of the State police.
The learned Government pleader submitted before the court that as a number of cases are pending before the Appellate Authority, the authority is disposing of the matters on a first-come basis and the case of the Petitioner will be heard according to the law.
The court after going through the material submitted by both the counsels said that in the interest of justice Respondent No. 3 is directed to dispose of the appeal as expeditiously as possible, preferably within 4 weeks from the date of receipt of the copy of the order in view of the fact that the vehicle was seized 7 months back and is kept idle in the police station and there is a possibility that it may get spoiled. The vehicle should be released by accepting collateral security from the Petitioner. The Petitioner will have to submit an affidavit before Respondent No. 3 that he will not alienate the vehicle to any 3rd party. The writ petition is disposed of. Any applications pending shall also stand closed and no orders as to costs.
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