Begin typing your search above and press return to search.
News Updates

Gujarat Mineral Rules | Seized Vehicle Liable To Be Released If FIR For Contravention Not Registered Within 45 Days Of Seizure: High Court

11 Aug 2022 5:30 AM GMT
Gujarat High Court, Restrain, Eating, Meat, 1-2 Days, Plea, Slaughterhouse Closure, Jain Festival, Justice Sandeep Bhatt,

The Gujarat High Court has held that it is obligatory for the investigator to approach the Court of Sessions with a written complaint and seized properties upon expiry of the 45 days period specified under the Gujarat Mineral (Prevention of Illegal Mining, Transportation and Storage) Rules, 2017.

In the absence of such an exercise, the seized vehicle will have to be released in favour of the person from whom it was seized, without insisting for bank guarantee.

The Petitioner herein was seeking release of his vehicle seized by the Respondent authorities for allegedly carrying overloaded building limestone with an expired delivery challan.

The Petitioner made an affidavit on oath that the reason for expiry of the challan was due to mechanical error and the breakdown of the vehicle. The vehicle was not involved into the illegal transportation of limestone and he had a valid royalty pass pertaining to the same.

The Petitioner primarily averred that the vehicle was detained from May 2022 and almost two months had passed. As per Rule 2(2)(b)(ii) of the 2017 Rules, if the application for compounding of offence was not received, the vehicle should be produced before the Court which had power to determine commission of such offence within 45 days of seizure. The action of the Respondent was thus alleged to be illegal and against the Rules. Reliance was placed on Nathubhai Jinabhai Gamara vs. State of Gujarat to bolster this contention.

The AGP conceded that no criminal prosecution had been initiated and no FIR was filed.

Perusing these contentions, the High Court concluded:

"Undisputedly, the complaint, as envisaged under sub-clause (ii) of clause (b) of sub-rule (2) of Rule 12 of the Mining Rules, has not been filed yet and, therefore, in absence of any complaint, the action of continuation of the detention of the vehicle by the respondent authority, is illegal and against the provisions of the Mining Rules."

The Single Judge Bench reiterated the decision in the Nathubhai judgement wherein it was held:

"In fact offence can be compounded at two stages being (1) at a notice stage, within 45 days of the seizure of the vehicle; (2) during the prosecution but before the order of confiscation. Needless to say that for compounding the offence during the prosecution, prosecution must be lodged and it is only then that on the application for compounding, the bank guarantee could be insisted upon. In absence of prosecution, the question of bank guarantee would not arise; nor would the question of compounding of offence."

Accordingly, the writ petition was allowed and the vehicle was directed to be released.

Case No.: C/SCA/13618/2022


Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Guj) 322

Click Here To Read/Download Order

Next Story