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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Delhi Excise Act sec. 33,58,59 and sec.61 - Sec.457 of Cr.P.C - Release of vehicle seized while transporting illicit liquor by police - Magistrate dismissed - High court allowed as the vehicle was seized by police but not by Excise Department - Apex court held that special law prevails over the general law and held that as per sec.59 all seized properties are to be produced before the Deputy commissioner of Excise who holds authority to deal with the same - Sec.61 bars jurisdiction of courts in respect of that seized properties and held that High court committed wrong and set aside the order of High court as it exceeds it's Jurisdiction = STATE (NCT OF DELHI) … APPELLANT VERSUS NARENDER …RESPONDENT = 2014 ( JANUARY - VOL -1) JUDIS.NIC.IN/ S.C./ FILE NAME= 41134

  Delhi Excise Act sec. 33,58,59 and sec.61 - Sec.457 of Cr.P.C - Release of vehicle seized while transporting illicit liquor by police - Magistrate dismissed - High court allowed as the vehicle was seized by police but not by Excise Department - Apex court held that special law prevails over the general law and held that as per sec.59 all seized properties are to be produced before the Deputy commissioner of Excise who holds authority to deal with the same - Sec.61 bars jurisdiction of courts in respect of that seized properties and held that High court committed wrong and set aside the order of High court as it exceeds it's Jurisdiction =

The  vehicle
abandoned by the driver was “Cruiser Force” and had registration No.  HR-56-
7290.  After opening of  the  windows  of  the  vehicle,  27  Cartons,  each
containing 12 bottles of 750  ml.  Mashaledar  country-made  liquor  and  20
Cartons, each containing 48 quarters of Besto Whisky were found  inside  the
vehicle.  All the 47 Cartons were embossed  with  ‘Sale  in  Haryana  only’.
Constable Raghmender Singh gave a report to the police  and  on  that  basis
FIR No. 112 of 2011 dated 17.04.2011 was registered  at  Aman  Vihar  Police
Station under Section 33(a) and Section 58 of the Delhi  Excise  Act,  2009.
During the course of investigation, Narender,  respondent  herein,  claiming
to be the owner of the vehicle, filed an  application  for  its  release  on
security, before the Metropolitan Magistrate,  Rohini,  who,  by  his  order
dated 24th of May, 2011 rejected the same, inter alia, holding that  he  has
no power to release the vehicle seized in connection with the offence  under
the Delhi Excise Act. 

The High  Court,  by  its  impugned
order dated 28th of November, 2011 directed the vehicle to  be  released  in
favour of the registered owner on furnishing security  to  the  satisfaction
of the  Metropolitan  Magistrate.   
While  doing  so,  the  High  Court  has
observed as follows:


           “………The vehicle in question was seized by  the  Police  and  not
           confiscated and if that was so, Section  58,  Delhi  Excise  Act
           would not apply with regard to the vehicle in question  and  the
           procedure that was to be followed regarding the vehicle  was  to
           be found in Chapter VI of Delhi Excise Act and also Section 451,
           Cr.P.C………”   =

 Section  59(1)  thereof  provides   that   notwithstanding
anything contained in any other law where anything liable  for  confiscation
under Section 58 is seized or detained, the officer  seizing  and  detaining
such thing shall produce  the  same  before  the  Deputy  Commissioner.   
On
production of the seized property, the  Deputy  Commissioner,  if  satisfied
that the offence under the Act has been committed,  may  order  confiscation
of such property.  

 “61.  Bar  of  jurisdiction  in  confiscation.-   
Whenever   any
           intoxicant, material, still, utensil,  implement,  apparatus  or
           any  receptacle,  package,  vessel,  animal,  cart,   or   other
           conveyance used in committing any offence, is seized or detained
           under this Act, no court shall, notwithstanding anything to  the
           contrary contained in any other law for the time being in force,
           have  jurisdiction  to  make  any  order  with  regard  to  such
           property.”


State of  Karnataka  v. K.A. Kunchindammed, (2002) 9 SCC 90,   which  while  dealing  with  somewhat
similar provisions under the Karnataka Forest Act held  as follows:-


           “23……….The position is made clear by the non obstante clause  in
           the  relevant  provisions  giving  overriding  effect   to   the
           provisions  in  the  Act  over  other  statutes  and  laws.  
The
           necessary corollary of such provisions is that in a  case  where
           the Authorized Officer is empowered  to  confiscate  the  seized
           forest produce on being satisfied that an offence under the  Act
           has been committed thereof  the  general  power  vested  in  the
           Magistrate for  dealing  with  interim  custody/release  of  the
           seized materials under CrPC has  to  give  way.  
The  Magistrate
           while dealing with a case of any seizure of forest produce under
           the Act should examine  
whether  the  power  to  confiscate  the
           seized forest produce is vested in the Authorized Officer  under
           the Act and if he  finds  that  such  power  is  vested  in  the
           Authorized Officer then he has no power to pass an order dealing
           with interim custody/release of the seized  material.  
This,  in
           our view, will help in proper implementation  of  provisions  of
           the special Act and will  help  in  advancing  the  purpose  and
           object of the statute. 
If in such cases power to  grant  interim
           custody/release of the seized forest produce is  vested  in  the
           Magistrate then it will be defeating the very scheme of the Act.
           Such a consequence is to be avoided.


           24. From the statutory provisions and the analysis made  in  the
           foregoing paragraphs the  position  that  emerges  is  that  the
           learned Magistrate and the learned Sessions Judge were right  in
           holding that on facts and in the circumstances of the  case,  it
           is the Authorized Officer who is vested with the power  to  pass
           order of interim custody of the vehicle and not the  Magistrate.
           The High Court was in error in taking a view to the contrary and
           in setting aside the orders passed by  the  Magistrate  and  the
           Sessions Judge on that basis.”



      From a conspectus of what we have observed above, the  impugned  order
of the High Court is found to be vulnerable and, therefore, the same  cannot
be allowed to stand.

  In the result, we allow this appeal, set aside the  impugned  judgment
and order of the High Court and hold that the High  Court  exceeded  in  its
jurisdiction in directing for release of the vehicle on security.


2014 ( JANUARY - VOL -1) JUDIS.NIC.IN/ S.C./ FILE NAME= 41134

                                                          
 REPORTABLE


                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                       CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.25  OF 2014
              (@SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CRL.) NO. 8423 OF 2012)


STATE (NCT OF DELHI)                         … APPELLANT

                                   VERSUS


NARENDER                                     …RESPONDENT


                               J U D G M E N T


CHANDRAMAULI KR. PRASAD, J.


      The State of Delhi, aggrieved by the order  dated  28th  of  November,
2011 passed by the Delhi High Court in  Criminal  M.C.  No.  2540  of  2011,
whereby it had directed for release of the vehicle bearing Registration  No.
HR-56-7290 to the registered owner on security, has preferred  this  special
leave petition.


      Leave granted.


      Shorn of unnecessary details, facts giving rise to the present  appeal
are  that  while  constables  Raghmender  Singh  and  Sunil  were  on  night
patrolling duty at Kirari Nithari turn on 17th of April, 2011,  they  saw  a
vehicle coming from the side of the Nithari Village.   Constable  Raghmender
Singh signalled the driver to stop the vehicle, but he  did  not  accede  to
his command and turned the vehicle  into  the  Prem  Nagar  Extension  Lane.
Both the constables chased the vehicle on their motorcycle  and  the  driver
of the vehicle, apprehending that he would be caught, left the  vehicle  and
ran away from the place, taking advantage  of  the  darkness.  
The  vehicle
abandoned by the driver was “Cruiser Force” and had registration No.  HR-56-
7290.  After opening of  the  windows  of  the  vehicle,  27  Cartons,  each
containing 12 bottles of 750  ml.  Mashaledar  country-made  liquor  and  20
Cartons, each containing 48 quarters of Besto Whisky were found  inside  the
vehicle.  All the 47 Cartons were embossed  with  ‘Sale  in  Haryana  only’.
Constable Raghmender Singh gave a report to the police  and  on  that  basis
FIR No. 112 of 2011 dated 17.04.2011 was registered  at  Aman  Vihar  Police
Station under Section 33(a) and Section 58 of the Delhi  Excise  Act,  2009.
During the course of investigation, Narender,  respondent  herein,  claiming
to be the owner of the vehicle, filed an  application  for  its  release  on
security, before the Metropolitan Magistrate,  Rohini,  who,  by  his  order
dated 24th of May, 2011 rejected the same, inter alia, holding that  he  has
no power to release the vehicle seized in connection with the offence  under
the Delhi Excise Act.
The respondent again filed  an  application  for  the
same relief  i.e.  for  release  of  the  vehicle  on  security  before  the
Metropolitan Magistrate but the said application  also  met  with  the  same
fate.   By  order-dated  14th  of  July,  2011,  the  learned   Metropolitan
Magistrate declined to pass the order for  release,  inter  alia,  observing
that any order directing for  release  of  the  vehicle  on  security  would
amount to review of the order dated 24th  of  May,  2011,  which  power  the
court did not possess.
      Aggrieved by the same, the respondent filed an application before  the
High Court under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure  (hereinafter
referred to as ‘the Code’), assailing the order dated 24th May, 2011  passed
by the learned Metropolitan Magistrate.
The High  Court,  by  its  impugned
order dated 28th of November, 2011 directed the vehicle to  be  released  in
favour of the registered owner on furnishing security  to  the  satisfaction
of the  Metropolitan  Magistrate.  
While  doing  so,  the  High  Court  has
observed as follows:


           “………The vehicle in question was seized by  the  Police  and  not
           confiscated and if that was so, Section  58,  Delhi  Excise  Act
           would not apply with regard to the vehicle in question  and  the
           procedure that was to be followed regarding the vehicle  was  to
           be found in Chapter VI of Delhi Excise Act and also Section 451,
           Cr.P.C………”




      Mr. Mohan Jain, Additional Solicitor General appears on behalf of  the
appellant whereas the respondent is represented by Mr. Harish  Pandey.   Mr.
Jain submits that in view of the embargo put by  Section  61  of  the  Delhi
Excise Act, the High Court had no jurisdiction to pass an order for  release
of the vehicle on security.  Mr. Pandey,  however,  submits  that  the  High
Court has the power under Section 451 of the Code to direct for  release  of
the vehicle on security and the same is legal and valid.


      Rival submissions necessitate examination of the scheme of  the  Delhi
Excise Act, 2009 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Act’).  Section 33 of  the
Act  provides  for  penalty  for   unlawful   import,   export,   transport,
manufacture, possession, sale etc. of intoxicant and  Section  33(a),  which
is relevant for the purpose reads as follows:


           “33.   Penalty   for   unlawful   import,   export,   transport,
           manufacture,   possession,   sale,   etc.-  
(1)   Whoever,   in
           contravention of provision of this Act or of any rule  or  order
           made or notification issued or of any licence, permit  or  pass,
           granted under this Act-

           (a) manufactures, imports, exports, transports  or  removes  any
           intoxicant;

                 xxx              xxx        xxx

           shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not
           be less than six months but which may extend to three years  and
           with fine which shall not be less than fifty thousand rupees but
           which may extend to one lakh rupees.”


      Section 58 of the Act provides for confiscation of certain things  and
Section 58(d) thereof, with which we are concerned in  the  present  appeal,
reads as follows:


           “58. Certain things liable to confiscation.-
Whenever an offence
           has  been  committed,  which  is  punishable  under  this   Act,
           following things shall be liable to confiscation, namely-


                 xxx        xxx         xxx


           (d) any animal, vehicle, vessel, or other  conveyance  used  for
           carrying the same.”


      From a plain reading of Section 33(a) of the Act, it is  evident  that
transportation of any intoxicant in contravention of the provisions  of  the
Act or of any rule or order made or  notification  issued  or  any  licence,
permit or pass, is punishable and any vehicle used for carrying   the  same,
is liable for confiscation under Section 58(d) of the Act.   Section  59  of
the Act deals with the power  of  confiscation  of  Deputy  Commissioner  in
certain  cases.  
Section  59(1)  thereof  provides   that   notwithstanding
anything contained in any other law where anything liable  for  confiscation
under Section 58 is seized or detained, the officer  seizing  and  detaining
such thing shall produce  the  same  before  the  Deputy  Commissioner.   
On
production of the seized property, the  Deputy  Commissioner,  if  satisfied
that the offence under the Act has been committed,  may  order  confiscation
of such property.  
Therefore, under the scheme of the Act any  vehicle  used
for carrying the intoxicant is liable to be confiscated and  on  seizure  of
the vehicle  transporting  the  intoxicant,  the  same  is  required  to  be
produced before the Deputy Commissioner, who  in  turn  has  been  conferred
with the power of its confiscation.
      Section 61 of the Act puts an embargo on jurisdiction of  courts,  the
same reads as follows:


           “61.  Bar  of  jurisdiction  in  confiscation.-  
Whenever   any
           intoxicant, material, still, utensil,  implement,  apparatus  or
           any  receptacle,  package,  vessel,  animal,  cart,   or   other
           conveyance used in committing any offence, is seized or detained
           under this Act, no court shall, notwithstanding anything to  the
           contrary contained in any other law for the time being in force,
           have  jurisdiction  to  make  any  order  with  regard  to  such
           property.”


      According to this section, notwithstanding anything contrary contained
in any other  law  for  the  time  being  in  force,  no  court  shall  have
jurisdiction to  make  any  order  with  regard  to  the  property  used  in
committing any offence and seized under the Act.
      It is relevant here to state that in the present case, the High Court,
while releasing the vehicle  on  security  has  exercised  its  power  under
Section 451 of the Code.
True it is that where any property is produced  by
an officer before a criminal court during an inquiry  or  trial  under  this
section, the court may make any direction as it thinks fit  for  the  proper
custody of such property pending the conclusion of the inquiry or trial,  as
the case may be.
At the conclusion of the inquiry or trial, the  court  may
also, under Section 452 of the Code, make an order for the disposal  of  the
property produced before it and make such other direction as  it  may  think
necessary.
Further, where the property is not  produced  before  a  criminal
court in an inquiry or trial, the Magistrate is empowered under Section  457
of the Code to make such order as  it  thinks  fit.  
In  our  opinion,  the
general provision of Section 451 of the Code with regard to the custody  and
disposal of the property or for that matter by destruction, confiscation  or
delivery to any person entitled to possession thereof under Section  452  of
the Code or that of Section 457 authorising a Magistrate to  make  an  order
for disposal of property, if seized by an officer and not produced before  a
criminal court during an inquiry or trial, however, has  to  yield  where  a
statute makes a special  provision  with  regard  to  its  confiscation  and
disposal.
We have referred to the scheme of the Act  and  from  that  it  is
evident that the vehicle  seized  has  to  be  produced  before  the  Deputy
Commissioner, who  in  turn  has  been  conferred  with  the  power  of  its
confiscation  or  release  to  its  rightful  owner.  
The  requirement   of
production of seized property before the Deputy Commissioner  under  Section
59(1) of the Act is, notwithstanding anything contained in  any  other  law,
and,  so also is the power of confiscation.  Not only this,  notwithstanding
anything to the contrary contained in any other law for the  time  being  in
force, no court, in terms of Section 61 of  the  Act,  has  jurisdiction  to
make any order with regard  to  the  property  used  in  commission  of  any
offence under the Act.
In the present case, the Legislature has used a non-
obstante clause not only in Section 59 but also in Section 61  of  the  Act.
As is well settled, a non-obstante clause is a legislative  device  to  give
effect to the enacting part of the section in  case  of  conflict  over  the
provisions mentioned in the non-obstante clause.
 Hence,  Section  451,  452
and 457 of the Code must yield to the provisions of the Act and there is  no
escape from the conclusion that the Magistrate or for that matter  the  High
Court, while dealing with the case of seizure of vehicle under the Act,  has
any power to pass an order dealing with the interim custody of  the  vehicle
on security or its release thereof.
The view  which  we  have  taken  finds
support from a judgment of this Court in the case of
State of  Karnataka  v. K.A. Kunchindammed, (2002) 9 SCC 90,   which  while  dealing  with  somewhat
similar provisions under the Karnataka Forest Act held  as follows:-


           “23……….The position is made clear by the non obstante clause  in
           the  relevant  provisions  giving  overriding  effect   to   the
           provisions  in  the  Act  over  other  statutes  and  laws.  
The
           necessary corollary of such provisions is that in a  case  where
           the Authorized Officer is empowered  to  confiscate  the  seized
           forest produce on being satisfied that an offence under the  Act
           has been committed thereof  the  general  power  vested  in  the
           Magistrate for  dealing  with  interim  custody/release  of  the
           seized materials under CrPC has  to  give  way.  
The  Magistrate
           while dealing with a case of any seizure of forest produce under
           the Act should examine  
whether  the  power  to  confiscate  the
           seized forest produce is vested in the Authorized Officer  under
           the Act and if he  finds  that  such  power  is  vested  in  the
           Authorized Officer then he has no power to pass an order dealing
           with interim custody/release of the seized  material.  
This,  in
           our view, will help in proper implementation  of  provisions  of
           the special Act and will  help  in  advancing  the  purpose  and
           object of the statute. 
If in such cases power to  grant  interim
           custody/release of the seized forest produce is  vested  in  the
           Magistrate then it will be defeating the very scheme of the Act.
           Such a consequence is to be avoided.


           24. From the statutory provisions and the analysis made  in  the
           foregoing paragraphs the  position  that  emerges  is  that  the
           learned Magistrate and the learned Sessions Judge were right  in
           holding that on facts and in the circumstances of the  case,  it
           is the Authorized Officer who is vested with the power  to  pass
           order of interim custody of the vehicle and not the  Magistrate.
           The High Court was in error in taking a view to the contrary and
           in setting aside the orders passed by  the  Magistrate  and  the
           Sessions Judge on that basis.”



      From a conspectus of what we have observed above, the  impugned  order
of the High Court is found to be vulnerable and, therefore, the same  cannot
be allowed to stand.

      To put the record straight it is  relevant  here  to  state  that  the
counsel for the respondent had not, and in our opinion  rightly,  challenged
the vires of the provisions of the Act in  view  of  the  decision  of  this
Court in the case of Oma Ram v. State of Rajasthan, (2008) 5 SCC 502,  which
upheld a somewhat similar provision existing in the Rajasthan Excise Act.

      In the result, we allow this appeal, set aside the  impugned  judgment
and order of the High Court and hold that the High  Court  exceeded  in  its
jurisdiction in directing for release of the vehicle on security.

                                    ………..………..……………………………….J.
                                                   (CHANDRAMAULI KR. PRASAD)



                                                    ………………….………………………………….J.
                                                             (KURIAN JOSEPH)
NEW DELHI,
JANUARY 06, 2014.





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