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Severely harsh conditions cannot be imposed on the release of seized vehicle: The High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh

It is of no use to keep such seized vehicles at the police stations for a long period. It is for the Magistrate to pass appropriate orders immediately by taking appropriate bond and guarantee as well as security for return of the said vehicles, if required at any point of time. This can be done pending hearing of applications, for return of such vehicles. The aforesaid has been reiterated by the High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh while adjudicating the case of Farooq Ahmed Dar v. Union Territory of J&K [CRM (M) No.454/2021] which was decided upon by a single judge bench comprising Justice Rajnesh Oswal on 23rd August 2021.

The facts of the case are as follows. The petitioner is the registered owner of the vehicle in question and the aforesaid vehicle was seized by the respondent in connection with FIR bearing No. 224/2021 under sections 8 and 15 of the NDPS Act that was registered against the driver hired by the petitioner for driving the said vehicle. The present petition had been filed by the petitioner under section 482 Code of Criminal Procedure for quashing of order dated 16.07.2021 passed by the learned Sessions Judge, Udhampur to the extent of imposing condition of furnishing bank guarantee of Rs. 5.00 lacs for release of vehicle bearing registration number JK16 0798 and the petitioner has prayed for compliance of conditions through Attorney holder of petitioner. It was further stated that the vehicle in question is the only source of the livelihood of the petitioner and after the seizure of the said vehicle, the petitioner is at the verge of the starvation and it is quite impossible for the petitioner to furnish a bank guarantee of Rs. 5.00 lacs.

The court perused the facts and arguments presented. It was of the opinion that “The only purpose for releasing of the vehicle is to ensure that the vehicle remains roadworthy otherwise if the same is allowed to remain in police custody, the same shall lose its utility. The learned Sessions Judge, Udhampur has already imposed numerous conditions while releasing the vehicle in question and the purpose is to ensure that the vehicle is not disposed of by the person on whose supurdnama the vehicle is kept and the same is produced before the court as and when required. The condition of imposing bank guarantee by the learned Sessions Judge is harsh, when other conditions have already been imposed by the learned Judge. So this Court is of the considered view that the said condition is required to be quashed”

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