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Gujarat HC Directs Police Authority to Release the Confiscated Vehicle

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The present petition was filed before the Gujarat High Court, with a prayer to get a muddamal vehicle released, by Court’s exercising of its extraordinary powers under Article 226 of the Constitution. The Court observed the scenario of many vehicles left unattended at the police station. Hence, the present petition was allowed.

Facts of the case

In the present case, the petitioner had filed a petition seeking to invoke the Court’s extraordinary jurisdiction under, supervisory jurisdiction under Article 227 of the Constitution of India and also inherent powers of the Court under Section 482 of the CrPc, with a prayer to release Muddamal Vehicle i.e Mahindra and Mahindra Limited and its chassis and engine. The petitioner was the owner of the aforesaid vehicle and the vehicle was duly registered with the transport department of the Government.

The case of the prosecution was that while the police personnel was on patrol, they had received secret information of the vehipatroling liquor and when authorities searched the said vehicle, its driver was found carrying liquor without any pass or permit. Therefore, an FIR came to be lodged with Sayla Police Station, Surendranagar for the offence.

Submissions before the Court

Applicant’s Submissions

Learned Advocate for the petitioner had urged that this shall exercise its wide powers under Article 226 of the Constitution. It was also submitted that the ratio laid down in the case of Sunderbhai Ambalal Desai v. State of Gujarat AIR 2003 SC 638, could also be taken into account, wherein, the Apex Court had lamented the scenario of many vehicles kept unattended within the police station premises.

Respondent’s Submissions

Learned APP for the respondent State had objected the submissions which were made by the learned Advocate for the petitioner and pointed out the case of Anilkumar Ramlal @ Raman Advocatehta v. State of Gujarat and the allied matters decided by this Court. She had further contended that, of course, powers of this Court under Article 226 of the  Constitution to order the release of the vehicle could be exercised, whenever the Court deems it appropriate.

Consideration by Court

In light of submissions put forth by the parties, the Court took into consideration similar issues being adjudicated in various cases. Like, in the case of Anilkumar Ramlal @ Ramanlalji Mehta v. State of Gujarat (supra), the Gujarat High Court had returned the applicant’s vehicle by exercising powers under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution. Court also found it profitable to refer to the observations made by the Apex Court in Sunderbhai Ambalal Desai v. State of Gujarat AIR 2003 SC 638 (Supra), in which it was observed that in the police station premises, number of vehicles were used to be kept unattended and vehicles thus become junk day by day. 

Hence, the Court had a view that whatever be the situation, it won’t be of any use to keep such seized vehicles at the police stations for a long period. Moreover, it would be for the Magistrate to pass appropriate orders immediately by taking appropriate bond and security for the return of the said vehicles if required at any point in time. 

The Apex Court, in that case, had, thus, directed that needful be done, within six months from the date of production of the vehicle before the Court concerned. It even directed that where the vehicle would not be claimed by the accused, owner, or the insurance company or any other person, then such vehicle may be ordered to be auctioned by the Court. The Apex Court also specifically directed that concerned Magistrate would have to take immediate action for seeing that powers under Section 451 of the Code would be properly exercised and vehicles would not be kept for a long time at the police station, i.e., for not more than fifteen days to one month.

Court’s Directions

Resultantly, the present application was allowed. The authority concerned was directed by the Court to release the vehicle of the petitioner, muddamal vehicle i.e Mahindra, and Mahindra Limited and chassis and engine, on certain terms and conditions that the petitioner shall furnish a bond of Rs.17,00,000/, and solvent surety of the equivalent amount, he shall also file an undertaking before the trial Court that before alienation, the permission of the concerned Court shall be taken till the conclusion of the trial, etc.

It was further directed by the Court that before handing over the possession of the vehicle to the petitioner, necessary photograph, as shall be taken and a detailed panchnama in that regard, shall also be drawn for the trial.

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