2013(2) ALL MR 738
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY

A.M. KHANWILKAR AND R.Y. GANOO, JJ.

Shri Balu @ Dinkar Baburao Tambe Vs. State Of Maharashtra & Anr.

Writ Petition No. 8440 of 2012

8th October, 2012

Petitioner Counsel: Mr. C.T. Chandratre
Respondent Counsel: Mr. Niteen Deshpande

Motor Vehicles Act (1988), S.207 - Criminal P.C. (1973), S.457 - Detention of vehicle - Challenge to validity of inspection note - Criminal case registered against petitioner and said vehicle shown as property concerning the offence - Held, remedy for petitioner is to approach concerned Magistrate for return of vehicle u/s.457 Cr. P.C. - No useful purpose would be served in examining validity of inspection note. (Paras 5, 8)

Cases Cited:
Ram Sewak Jaiswal Vs. State of U.P., 1996 Cri.LJ 1012 [Para 6]


JUDGMENT

-A.M.KHANWILKAR, J. :- Heard Counsel for the parties.

2. Rule. Mr. Deshpande, A.G.P. waives notice on behalf of the Respondent-State. By consent, Rule made returnable forthwith.

3. This petition, in substance, takes exception to the Inspection Note dated 2nd August, 2012 which is the basis for detaining Truck No.MH-43-E-6861. The petitioner asserts that the said vehicle belongs to him. The Authority has seized the said vehicle even though the petitioner had produced the relevant documents. The Authority has unjustly refused to release the vehicle in question.

4. The respondents-Authority, on the other hand, submits that the vehicle in question has been seized as the petitioner failed to produce driving licence of the driver. As a result, the Authority had no other option but to detain the said vehicle in exercise of powers under Section 207 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. Further, even after giving sufficient opportunity to the petitioner, he failed to produce any valid driving licence.

5. It is not in dispute that the petitioner had produced certificate of registration and permits concerning the said vehicle before the Authority. Even if we may agree with this submission of the petitioner, in the present case, the Authority has proceeded to register a criminal case against the petitioner and the vehicle has been shown as property concerning the said offence. We are informed that the charge-sheet has also been filed in connection with the said criminal case before the concerned court on 3rd September, 2012. In that case, the remedy for the petitioner is to approach the concerned Magistrate for return of the property under Section 457 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The said court may have to consider all aspects of the matter, in accordance with law. We may not be understood to have expressed any opinion in that regard.

6. The Counsel for the petitioner, however, relied on the decision of the single Judge of the Allahabad High Court in the case of Ram Sewak Jaiswal vs. State of U.P., 1996 Cri.LJ 1012. In that case, the Court opined that the Magistrate does not have power to release the vehicle under the Code of Criminal Procedure. We disagree with the said opinion. Inasmuch as, once the matter proceeds before the regular criminal Court as a criminal case and the vehicle is shown as property involved in the said criminal case, it is only the Magistrate who takes cognizance of the case, competent to issue directions regarding return of property till the said criminal case is finally disposed of and none else.

7. No doubt, Section 207 of the Motor Vehicles Act are special provisions but even so, a police officer or the person authorized by the State Government under the said enactment shall cease to exercise powers under section 207 of the Motor Vehicles Act qua the vehicle which is subject matter of criminal case of which cognizance is taken by the Court, consequent to the registration of offence and making the said vehicle as a crime property.

8. Significantly, the challenge in this writ petition is only to the Inspection Note which is in anterior point of time to the institution of criminal case and for the reasons already recorded, no useful purpose would be served in examining the justness and validity of the said Inspection Note in the present petition. The same can be considered in the appropriate proceedings if that question arises.

9. The counsel for the petitioner, therefore, submits that the petitioner be permitted to take recourse to remedy before the Magistrate for return of the property.

10. Accordingly, this petition is disposed of with liberty to the petitioner to pursue other remedy. All questions in that behalf are left open.

11. We hope and trust that the concerned Magistrate will dispose of the proposed application preferred by the petitioner for return of the property, expeditiously and preferably within six weeks from the date of presentation thereof.

Petition dismissed.