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Supreme Court Dismisses Petition Filed By All India Transporters Welfare Association Alleging Illegal Police Seizure Of Vehicles

Padmakshi Sharma
26 Sep 2022 7:48 AM GMT
Supreme Court Dismisses Petition Filed By All India Transporters Welfare Association Alleging Illegal Police Seizure Of Vehicles
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The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a petition filed by the All India Transporters Welfare Association alleging illegal seizure of properties by police.The petition had prayed for making a uniform procedure on a pan-India basis regarding the release of consignments and trucks illegally seized by police, by subordinate courts of India, in line of the uniform procedure established by...

The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a petition filed by the All India Transporters Welfare Association alleging illegal seizure of properties by police.

The petition had prayed for making a uniform procedure on a pan-India basis regarding the release of consignments and trucks illegally seized by police, by subordinate courts of India, in line of the uniform procedure established by Chief Justice Retd. NV Ramana during his tenure as the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court. According to the Petitioner Association, the said uniform procedure in Delhi had been working well since 2013.

At the outset, the counsel for petitioners submitted that transporters were suffering due to actions of police which were in clear violation of Section 102(3) of the CrPC. For context, Section 102 of CrPC provides police officers with power to seize property which may be alleged or suspected to have been stolen, or which may be found under circumstances which create suspicion of the commission of any offence. However, Section 102(3) provides–

"Every police officer acting under sub- section (1) shall forthwith report the seizure to the Magistrate having jurisdiction and where the property seized is such that it cannot be conveniently transported to the Court, he may give custody thereof to any person on his executing a bond undertaking to produce the property before the Court as and when required and to give effect to the further orders of the Court as to the disposal of the same."

The grievance raised by the petitioner was that the actions of the police officers in many cases were not consistent with Section 102 of CrPC and properties kept languishing under police custody causing anguish to transporters. The petitioner argued that the said properties of their customers such as toothpaste, fans, detergent powder, glass, medicines, pesticides etc. which had no direct link with substances such as illegal liquor, narcotic substances, etc. could not be seized in terms of Section 102 (1) Cr.P.C. It was further argued that if at all such items were seized, they had to be released by police immediately in terms of amended provision of Section 102(3) Cr.P.C. on executing a bond. As per the petitioner, even in subordinate courts, on the application of transporters, no release orders were passed within a reasonable time and unreasonable conditions were imposed on the transporters, resulting in the said consignments and trucks being under police custody for delayed periods, causing anguish to transporters. The petitioners, for their submissions, relied upon Para 13 of M.T. Enrica Lexie & Anr. v. Doramma & Ors., which is produced below–

"The police officer in course of investigation can seize any property under Section 102 if such property is alleged to be stolen or is suspected to be stolen or is the object of the crime under investigation or has direct link with the commission of offence for which the police officer is investigating into. A property not suspected of commission of the offence which is being investigated into by the police officer cannot be seized. Under Section 102 of the Code, the police officer can seize such property which is covered by Section 102(1) and no other."

However, the bench comprising Chief Justice U.U. Lalit, Justices Ravindra Bhat and J.B. Pardiwala, found that a PIL under Article 32 was not the correct remedy for the matter. Accordingly, CJI Lalit orally remarked–

"If there be individual cases where according to the person there has been non compliance, the concerned person to be at liberty to file for appropriate proceedings. The grievance raised in the petition is not something which must be dealt with under Article 32."

Accordingly, the petition was dismissed. The counsel for petitioner sought liberty to withdraw the petition and approach the High Court. However, CJI Lalit stated–

"Sorry, we don't want this to multiply. If there are negatives court can look into it, but this does not mean police is powerless and cannot even confiscate property. Representation made by individuals shall appropriately be considered. Police must have power to confiscate contraband material but there must be check that nothing apart from that. So we have made that clear...Sections 451, 457- these are appropriate proceedings."

The order reads as follows–

"The scope of Section 102 of the Code has thus been dealt with by this Court and needs no further elaboration. If there be any individual case, wherever, according to the concerned person, there is non-compliance of the requirements of Section 102 of the Code, the concerned person will always be at liberty to file appropriate proceedings in a manner known to law. The representation so made by any individual concerned person or entity shall appropriately be considered at the earliest in every given case. The grievance raised in the petition is not something which must be dealt with in proceedings under Article 32 of the Constitution of India."

Case Title: All India Transporters Welfare Association & Anr. v Union Of India & Ors W.P.(C) No. 38/2022


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