The court directed that all proceedings under section 58 of the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016, must positively be initiated and concluded within a period of ninety days from the date of appearance of the parties. Further, Appeal/Revision, if any, should also be decided within a period of thirty days from the date of initiation, failing which the “things” (vehicle/property/ etc.) shall be deemed to have been released in terms of several orders passed by the Court. This was held in Anil Ravidas V. The State of Bihar and Ors. [CWJC No.7200 of 2021] in the High Court of Patna by a division bench consisting of Chief JUSTICE Sanjay Karol and JUSTICE S. Kumar.
Facts are that the respondents had seized the Motorcycle of the petitioner bearing Registration No. BR 46E 5337 from Pakribarwan Police Station, District- Nawada P.S. Case No. 274 of 2019 on 20.08.2019. The seizure was carried out under Section 56 of the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016. The same has not been released nor has any proceeding initiated on part of the respondent. The writ petition has been filed by the petitioner in regards to the same.
The counsel for the petitioner had prayed for the issuance of a writ in the nature of mandamus directing and commanding the respondents to release the Motorcycle of the petitioner. He has relied on a case titled Md. Shaukat Ali Vs. The State of Bihar and Umesh Sah Versus the State of Bihar & Ors. In support of his case.
The counsel for the respondents has no objection to the same.
The court made reference to the judgment of the Patna High court in Manish Kumar Chaudhary versus the State of Bihar & Ors, wherein it was observed that “Wherever proceedings for confiscation have not started, the Appropriate Authority constituted under the Act, shall positively initiate the same within a period of four weeks from today. In any event, petitioner undertakes to appear in the office of the concerned appropriate authority/the concerned District Magistrate, on the 10th of February, 2020 and apprise him of the passing of the order. The said Officer shall forthwith, and not later than four weeks from today, initiate the proceedings and after compliance of principles of natural justice, take a decision thereupon within a period of two months.
The court also made reference to the judgment of the Patna High court in Md. Shaukat Ali Vs. The State of Bihar & Ors., wherein it was observed that “We further direct the appropriate authority to positively conclude the confiscation proceeding within next thirty days on appearance of the petitioner. If for whatever reason, such proceeding cannot be concluded, in that event it shall be open for the authority to take such measures, as are permissible in law, for release of the vehicle in question by way of interim measure, on such terms as may be deemed appropriate, considering the attending facts and circumstances of the case.”.
Considering the facts of the case and the legal precedents, the court observed that, in a large number of cases, the position about the conclusion of the proceedings, be it under Section 58, 92, or 93 remains the same. The court directed the Authorities under the Act to take appropriate action at the earliest and in accordance with the law, within the time schedule fixed, failing which the vehicle/property/things liable for confiscation shall be deemed to have been released without any further reference to this Court.