The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has made a direction to all the Criminal Courts in the State to expeditiously "dispose of" alcohol items that are stored in court's "Property Rooms".
A division bench comprising of Justice PN Prakash and Justice T. Krishnavalli passed the order after it was informed that some "desperate addicts" stole alcohol from the court's custody.
In a communicated dated April 28, the Public Prosecutor for the State of Tamil Nadu informed the court that a huge consignment of spirit, seized in connection to a criminal case was kept in the Property Room of the District Court in Vedasandur.
However, some addicts in desperation, in view of the closure of all TASMAC outlets by the State Government in the war against COVID-19, had committed theft of spirit from the Property Room of the Court for consumption.
Taking suo mto cognizance on this information, the bench directed all the Criminal Courts to take immediate steps for disposal of alcohol items that are available in their Property Rooms.
However, it has been directed that the same will be done after proper documentation and preparation of a panchnama. The bench instructed,
"It shall be open to all the Criminal Courts in the State to take immediate steps for disposal of alcohol items that are available in their Property Rooms, in the presence of the Investigation Officers, after preparing a panchanama/inventory and taking photographs/videos of destruction. If required, minimum samples may be retained depending upon the facts and circumstances of each case. Such a panchanama/inventory and photographs/videos certified by the Judge/Magistrate, shall be treated as evidence during trial in lieu of the actual contraband."
The order draws strength from the Tamil Nadu Prohibition Act and the Rules framed thereunder that provide for "expeditious disposal of alcohol items".
Pertinently, a separate criminal case has also been registered in connection to this incident and four persons have been arrested.
The matter is now posted for consideration on June 1.
Case Title: Suo Motu
Case No.: WP (MD) No. 6126/2020
Quorum: Justice PN Prakash and Justice T. Krishnavalli
Appearance: Public Prosecutor A. Natarajan
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