IF THE VEHICLE IS NOT CLAIMED BY THE ACCUSED OR OWNER OR INSURANCE COMPANY OR BY THIRD PARTY, THEN SUCH VEHICLE MAY BE ORDERED TO BE AUCTIONED BY THE COURT.: MADRAS HIGH COURT
The High Court of Madras passed a judgment on 25 April 2023 stating that if the vehicle is not claimed by the accused or owner or insurance company or by third party, then such vehicle may be ordered to be auctioned by the court.It was stated in the case of SHANTHI Vs. THE STATE BY INSPECTOR OF POLICE (CRL OP.3219/2023) which was passed by the single judge bench comprising of HONOURABLE JUSTICE G.CHANDRASEKARAN.
FACTS OF THE CASE:
These petitions are filed to modify the conditions imposed in the order dated 07.11.2022 on the file of learned Judicial Magistrate No.II, Kallakurichi (FAC) Principal District Munsif, Kallakurichi as far as directing the petitioner concerned to give undertaking affidavit that she/he will not dispose the property at the time of trial proceedings, will not alienate the property and will produce the vehicles whenever required by the court. The petitioner is the correspondent of Sakthi Matriculation Higher Secondary School and ECR International School at Kaniyamoor, Chinnasalem Taluk, Kallakurichi District. Due to an riot caused by the accused persons in Crime No.236 of 2022, school buildings and its belongings like buses, van, tractor and assets inside the school premises were vandalized, ransacked and destroyed and the case under Sections 147, 148, 294 (b), 323, 324, 332, 336, 353, 435, 436, 379, 506 (ii) IPC, Sections 3, 4 and 5 of Tamil Nadu Public Property (Prevention of Damage and Loss) Act, 1992 was registered. Burnt vehicles were seized by the respondent police and they were kept in the school premises for more than six months. All the vehicles stand in the name of the petitioner/Correspondent of the school. Original RC Books of the said vehicles were burnt in the incident. Due to the extent of damage caused, many of the vehicles will not be useful for any purpose and they would be taken only for scrap value. Some of the half burnt vehicles are also kept in the school premises and due to sunlight and rain, the vehicles get damaged day-by-day. Petitioner(s) filed applications in return the vehicles to the custody of the petitioner(s), enabling the petitioner(s) to sell the vehicles. The learned Judicial Magistrate, allowed the petitions with a condition that the petitioner(s) shall give an undertaking affidavit that he/she will not dispute the property, will not alienate the property and will produce the vehicles as and when required by the court. The vehicles are almost totally burnt. They are kept in open air, exposed to sun light, air and rain. The vehicles cannot be moved and therefore, they cannot be produced before the Court. The vehicles can be marked as Material Objects (M.Os.), with the use of photographs taken, Seizure Mahazar and Form-95. Therefore, these petitions are filed for altering/modifying the condition No.3 imposed in the order of the learned Judicial Magistrate No.II, Kallakurichi Principal District Munsif, Kallakurichi .
JUDGEMENT OF THE CASE
If the vehicles are kept in open air exposed to sunlight and rain, they become junk day-by-day. In appropriate cases, the vehicles can also be sold. In the case before hand, the photographs filed with the petitions show that some vehicles had been half burnt and some vehicles had been totally burnt. It is not possible for moving these vehicles to the court for marking them as material objects. It is stated that the vehicles had been remanded to the court custody and after taking necessary photographs and videos. Therefore, marking of the vehicles as material objects can be done with the help of Seizure Mahazar, Form-95 and photographs of the vehicles. No one is claiming ownership of these vehicles except the petitioner(s). If petitioner(s) is/are permitted to sell these half burnt and totally burnt vehicles, at least petitioner(s) shall be in a position to recover some portions of the cost of the properties damaged. In his view of the matter, this Court sets aside condition No.3 of the order passed by the learned Judicial Magistrate No. Kallakurichi Principal District Munsif, Kallakurichi, and gives permission to the petitioner(s) to sell the vehicles. However, learned Magistrate is directed to ensure that the vehicles are photographed with necessary and detailed panchanama prepared and produced before the court for the purpose of marking as exhibits, during the course of trial. It must also be ensured that Motor Vehicle Inspector inspected all the vehicles and submitted his report with regard to the nature and extent of the damage caused to each and every vehicle. With the above observations and directions, these Criminal Original Petitions are allowed.
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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY ROSHNI SABU, KERALA LAW ACADEMY LAW COLLEGE.