The Bombay High Court said that if a vehicle is found to be carrying a product whose sale and manufacture is ban passes through the state, although the destination is different, the state authorities here will have the power to confiscate the goods.
The court was hearing a plea filed by a truck owner who was captured and arrested by the state authorities from Malegaon City. As per the factual matrix, the truck was loaded with Gutka and other Tobacco Products whose sale and manufacture was totally banned in the state. The truck started its journey from Gujarat to reach Odisha but was apprehended while it passed through Maharashtra.
The truck owner sought to quash the F.I.R on the ground that the confiscation done by the authorities violates their right to freedom of movement.
The Court noted that despite a total ban on the sale and manufacture of Gutka and other tobacco products in Maharashtra state but still the products are found in the market. The hearing was going on before the bench of Justice Sunil Shukre and Avinash Gharote who said that vehicles carrying the ban products purposely pass through Maharashtra under the name of inter-state transport and offload the products, and due to which ban products are still found in the market.
The court further said,
“Though inter-state transport would be permissible, the state authorities would be within their rights, to seize the goods, which are prohibited within the state, so as to ensure that they are not offloaded in the state under the guise of interstate transport, with a view to enforce the prohibition within the state and curb black marketing of such goods.”
The court refused to accept the petitioner’s argument that they were not knowing that the products they were carrying were for sale.
“Nothing prevents the transporters to plan a route, which avoids the state where the goods are prohibited. An alternate route, at the most, may increase the cost of transportation but would save them from the clutches of prohibition. Thus, we do not find any illegality in the seizure of the vehicles, carrying the prohibited goods, which was way off the easiest route of transport” the court added.
The court noted,
“Obviously, due to the various studies made, the advertisements, the films show the harmful effects of tobacco and tobacco products, it no longer can be said that any person, would now be oblivious as to the harmful effects of tobacco and tobacco products. In spite of knowing about the harmful effects, if a person transports such products, from one place to another, could it be said that such a person, was unaware that the same was not for sale? The answer would be an obvious no.”
The court refused to quash the FIR.
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