Section 15 (5) in juxtaposition with 15-C of the Act leaves no manner of doubt that bar of jurisdiction to pass the order on an application under Sections 451 and 457 of the Code would operate only on receipt of information by the concerned Magistrate under Sub Section (5) of Section 15 of the Act regarding initiation of proceedings for confiscation of the property: HIGH COURT OF MADHYA PRADESH AT INDORE

The Miscellaneous Criminal Case No.8820/2022 stands allowed and disposed of by HIGH COURT OF MADHYA PRADESH AT INDORE in the case of SAHIL KHAN V. STATE OF M.P. through HON’BLE JUSTICE SUBODH ABHYANKAR

The facts of the case are that on 21.01.2020, a truck bearing registration number HR-63 A-9596 was apprehended by the Forest Department and was found carrying forest produce, woods (Kher Van-upaj). The story of the prosecution is that one Ashique Khan @ Banti s/o Jalil Khan, the co-accused was to dispose of the aforesaid forest produce, after its delivery to him. This fact has been disclosed by the main accused persons viz., Bhupendra Singh S/o Bhagwan Singh (Truck Driver) and Sunny @ Rajveer Singh S/o Bhupendra Singh (Cleaner of the Truck) in their memos prepared under Section 27 of the Evidence Act,1872, however, Ashique Khan @ Banti could not be arrested at that time and subsequently he could be arrested only on 22.11.2021, while he was travelling in a Toyota Innova bearing registration number MP-04 BC-9991 (the vehicle in question) which belonged to the petitioner Sahil Khan. Admittedly, the aforesaid vehicle has already been seized, but there are no confiscation proceedings initiated by the Forest Department. An application under Sections 451 and 457 of the Code was filed by the petitioner. However, the same was dismissed by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Indore, District Indore (MP) vide order dated 02.12.2021 on merits and criminal revision preferred against the aforesaid order also came to be dismissed vide order dated 12.01.2022, on the ground that it was not maintainable which are under challenge in the present petition before this Court.

In this case, on due consideration of the rival submissions and on perusal of the case diary as also the documents placed on record by the petitioner, it is found that so far as the order dated 02.12.2021 passed by the Chief Judicial Magistrate is concerned, it has dismissed the application filed by the petitioner without even referring to Section 15-C of the Act and on the ground that u/s.39 (1) (d) of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 the vehicle would become the Government property, hence, it cannot allow the application for Supurdagi. However, in the Revision Court’s order dated 12.01.2022, the entire Section 15 of the Act has been quoted; and after referring to the decisions rendered by this Court as also by the Supreme Court, it is held that such vehicle can be released only by the Officer of the Forest Department. Admittedly no such intimation is sent by the respondent/authorised officer to the Judicial Magistrate regarding confiscation of the property; and in such circumstances, this Court is of the considered opinion that the Judicial Magistrate was in error in not exercising the jurisdiction vested in it by law. In such circumstances, when the vehicle is not liable for confiscation under Section 15 of the Act; and even otherwise, as already observed, no such intimation as provided under s.15C has been given to the Judicial Magistrate by the concerned, Forest Officer. Thus, the impugned orders dated 12th January, 2022 passed in Criminal Revision No.10/2022 by learned 14th Additional Sessions Judge, Indore, District Indore (MP) as well as order dated 2nd December, 2021 passed in R.C.T. No.1386/2020 (Crime No.28060/2019) by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Indore, District Indore (MP) are hereby quashed and the petition stands allowed. It is directed that upon his furnishing adequate surety to the satisfaction of the authorized officer of the Forest Department, subject to the condition that the petitioner shall not alienate this vehicle in any manner and shall produce the vehicle whenever and wherever he is directed to do so by the Court / Competent Authority, the respondents are directed to release the petitioner’s vehicle Toyota Innova bearing registration number MP-04 BC-9991 forthwith. Breach of any of the conditions would entail cancellation of this order automatically. Accordingly, Miscellaneous Criminal Case No.8820/2022 stands allowed and disposed of.
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