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Should Vehicles be Left to Rust? : Gujarat High Court Verdict

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Case: Rajkumar Ashokbhai Tadpada vs the State of Gujarat


The applicant owns a Bajaj Auto Rickshaw Eco Green bearing registration No. GJ-07- AT-8513, which was seized by the police authority. The applicant asserts that he is the accused in the offense and at present enlarged on bail. The vehicle is now lying in an open space and its condition is likely to deteriorate over time.

Petitioner’s arguments-

The learned counsel has prayed to allow the present application and urges the court to exercise its power under Article 226 of the Constitution. The case of Sunderbhai Ambalal Desai Vs. The state of Gujarat, AIR 2003 SC 638 is cited wherein the Apex Court lamented about vehicles becoming junk after being left unattended in the premise of the police station and contended that directions should be given to the Magistrates who are dealing with such questions. But the learned counsel submitted that this question of handing over vehicles to the person from whom it is seized or to its true owner is always a matter of litigation.

Respondents Arguments-

The Learned APP Ms. Moxa Thakkar for the respondent- State has strongly opposed the grant of the present application. She argued before the Court that because of Section 98 of the Act, the vehicle used in the crime under R/SCR.A/29/2021 ORDER Prohibition Act is liable to be confiscated. She also submitted that if the vehicle is released, the same may be used in another crime and, therefore, this Court may not allow the present application.

Court’s Observations-

Regard was paid to the submissions advanced by the learned counsel for both sides and considering the facts that the vehicle, i.e., the concerned police authority has seized Bajaj Auto Rickshaw Eco Green during the course of the search under the Prohibition Act. It also reveals from the R/SCR.A/29/2021 ORDER materials placed on record that the applicant is the owner of the said vehicle and is the accused of the crime. It is an admitted fact that if the vehicle is kept unused then it will become useless.

Given Sections 98, 100, and 132 of the Prohibition Act, it appears that the provisions provide for confiscation. However, considering the factual aspects of this case, this Court is of the considered opinion that the custody of the vehicle, if granted in favour of the applicant, no prejudice is likely to be caused to the prosecution as there will be stringent conditions on the applicant about the seized vehicle. 

This Court has considered the principles laid down by the Apex Court in the case of Sunderbhai Ambalal Desai Vs. The state of Gujarat, AIR 2003 SC 638. This Court has also considered the orders of the Coordinate Bench of this Court in Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation Through Depot Manager Morbi Vs. State of Gujarat; Anilkumar Ramlal @ Ramanlalji Mehta Vs. State of Gujarat; Munavarbhai Dadabhai Sandhi Vs. State of Gujarat; Dikulbhai Dineshbhai Patel Vs. State of Gujarat; Balvantbhai Jivanbhai Sapra Vs. State of Gujarat and Rathod Gopalbhai Devabhai Vs. State of Gujarat

Court’s Decision-

In the light of the submissions put forth by the learned counsel for the applicant, the Court allowed the application. The authority concerned is directed to release the vehicle of the applicant, on the terms and conditions that the applicant: 

(i) shall furnish, by way of security, bond of Rs.90,000/- (Rupees Ninety Thousand Only) and solvent surety of the equivalent amount; 

(ii) shall file an undertaking on oath before the trial Court that before alienation or transfer in any mode or manner, prior permission of the concerned Court shall be taken till the conclusion of the trial; 

(iii) shall also file an undertaking on oath to produce the vehicle as and when directed by the trial court; 

(iv) in the event of any subsequent offence, the vehicle shall stand confiscated.

Before handing over the possession of the vehicle to the applicant, necessary photographs shall be taken and detailed panchnama in that regard, if not already drawn, shall also be drawn for trial. If the Investigating Officer finds it necessary, videography of the vehicle also shall be done. Expenses towards the photographs and the videography shall be borne by the applicant. The rule is made absolute, accordingly. Direct service is permitted. Learned advocates for the petitioner are also permitted to intimate about this order to the concerned authorities through fax, email, and/or any other suitable electronic mode. The concerned Trial Court be informed accordingly.

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