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Patna High Court directed the District Court to release the car in favour of the petitioner after verifying the registration of the car

TITLE: Sukh Sagar Kumar v. The State of Bihar & Ors.

Decided on: 20-07-2023

Cr.WJC No: 1491/2022

Coram: HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE ANIL KUMAR SINHA 

Facts of the case:

The order dated 06.09.2022, issued in NDPS Case No. 30/2021 by the learned 1st Additional Sessions Judge, Begusarai, has been challenged in the current writ application.

The petitioner’s car, with registration number BR 09 AJ/0706, was parked outside the home of the accused identified in the FIR when a search was conducted, and 385 gms. of brown sugar were found inside the vehicle. These are the key facts that gave rise to the current writ application. It has been claimed that the car in question was used by the accused individuals listed in the FIR to carry illegal substances, and brown sugar has also been found inside. As a non-FIR named accused, the petitioner has been added.

Learned Counsel for the petitioner claims that the vehicle that was seized and whose registration number is BR 09 AJ/0706 belongs to the petitioner. He was unaware that brown sugar was kept in the vehicle. He further states that the petitioner is not named in the First Information Report and that the police actually seized his car on December 2, 2021, as would be clear from the GPS data, but that the police only revealed the actual seizure on December 3, 2021, after the First Information Report was filed against other accused parties. The petitioner has attached the registration certificate as proof of ownership. He additionally submits that the confiscation action has not yet begun and that it cannot begin until the trial is over in accordance with Section 63 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. He also asserts that because the car in question is stored in the police station’s open area, it is constantly deteriorating and losing its ability to go on public roads. 

On the other hand, the State’s learned counsel opposes the petitioner’s request to have the car released in his favour while the trial and/or confiscation proceedings were ongoing, arguing that the petitioner knew the car was being used to transport a prohibited substance and that it was parked in front of the accused people’s home. Furthermore, he claims that the in question car has been found to contain a commercial amount of brown sugar.

Analysis of the court and decision:

The court has heard counsel for petitioner and learned Additional Public Prosecutor for the State.Reviewing Section 60 of the 1985 Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, it appears that any conveyance used to transport such substances is subject to confiscation if it can be demonstrated that the owner of the vehicle or conveyance knew about or approved of its use. There cannot be any confiscation in the initial instance without any such material.

Sections 451 and 457 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, which deal with the court’s authority to order the disposal or custody of the property pending trial in certain cases and the procedure by the police upon seizure of the property, would apply to the question of the car’s release in light of the aforementioned facts.

Accordingly, the order dated 06.09.2022, passed by the learned 1st Additional Sessions Judge, Begusarai, in NDPS Case No. 30/2021, arising out of Sahebpur Kamal Police Station Case No. 288 of 2021, is set aside and the learned District Court is directed to release the car, in question, in favour of the petitioner after verifying the ownership/registration of the car within a period of four weeks from the date of receipt/production of a copy of this order, subject to the following conditions:- 

(1) That the petitioner shall furnish bank guarantee of Rs. 3 Lacs to the satisfaction of the learned District Court; 

(2) That before handing over the car to the petitioner, a detailed and proper Punchnama of the said car, after taking its photograph, shall be prepared; 

(3) That the petitioner shall also execute bond that the car, in question, shall be produced as and when required at the time of trial or confiscation proceeding; and

(4) That petitioner shall also furnish an undertaking on oath that he shall not alienate or part with the ownership of the car, in question, till pendency of the trial or confiscation proceeding, if any. 

With the aforesaid directions and observations, this application is allowed.

There shall be no order as to costs. 

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Written by- Meghana D

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