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Not Proper To Re-appreciate Evidence & Substitute Own Findings – Odisha High Court.

The Odisha High Court passed the judgement on 12 Aug 2022. In the case of Abhiram Chatria v. State of Odisha ( W.P.(C) No. 7554 of 2019)

The Orissa High Court has reiterated that it Is not proper for the High Court to re appreciate evidence while exercising jurisdiction under Article 227 of the Constitution and thereby to substitute its own views in the place of views expressed by the Courts below only on the ground that a second or alternative view is possible. While dismissing the petition which called for reappearation of evidence, a Single Judge Bench of Justice Krushna RamMohapatrapassed the judgement.

Facts

In the night of 28/29th March, 2017, while the Forester of Bhatangpadar Section along with other forest staff were patrolling, they stopped vehicle a at about 2.30 AM and detected that it is loaded with 54 numbers of 0.52 cum of fresh cut teak planks for which they detained the driver of the offending vehicle. On being asked he could not produce the TT Permit for its transportation. Accordingly, the offending vehicle was seized and confiscation proceeding was initiated for violation of Rules 4 and 12 of the Odisha Timber and other Forest Transit Rules, 1980 (TT Rules’).

The petitioner in this writ petition sought to challenge the order passed by the District Judge, Kalahandi, whereby he confirmed the order of confiscation passed by Authorized Officer-cum-Assistant Conservator of Forest, Kalahandi North Division, Bhawanipatna in respect of the vehicle.

JUDGEMENT

The Court observed that the driver, being employed by the petitioner, was acting as his ‘agent’ to drive the vehicle. Again, there is no material on record except oral statement of the owner as well as the driver himself to the effect that the petitioner had no knowledge of involvement of the offending vehicle in forest offence. The Court noted that there is no cogent evidence available on record to arrive at a conclusion that either the petitioner or his had any knowledge of such driver had transportation.

The Court further noted the deposition of the driver to the effect that the teak planks were loaded in the offending vehicle under threat of some antisocial persons. However, the Court took strong exception to fact that the matter was never informed to the local Police. The case of the petitioner is that the vehicle was being used for conveyance of children to Central School, Bhawanipatna, but when he contacted the driver at 10.30 PM of intervening night of 28/29th March, 2017, the driver informed that he is going to his village to bring his family members and the petitioner had never objected to the same. Thus, the Bench held,

After perusing the impugned order, the Court was of the view that the District Judge, Kalahandi has considered the submission made by the counsel for the petitioner in its entirety and discussed the same with reference to the materials on record and case law. Thus, the Bench concluded that it will not be proper for it to re-appreciate the evidence and substitute its own finding only because a second view is possible.

Accordingly, the Writ Petition was dismissed.

JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY KUNMUN DAS.

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