Kar HC | Police Officers can exercise power under S. 102(3) CrPC to give custody of vehicles seized for COVID-19 guidelines violation owners

Karnataka High Court: A Division Bench of Abhay S. Oka, CJ and B.V. Nagarathnna, J. held that , owners of seized vehicles due to breach of COVID-19 Guidelines may approach jurisdictional Police Officers for the same.

An interlocutory application has been tendered wherein it has been stated that from 25-03-2020 till date, approximately 35,000 vehicles have been seized within the limits of Bengaluru City for violating of Section 188 of Penal Code, 1860 and clause (b) of sub-section (1) of Section 51 of Disaster Management Act, 2005.

Further with regard to the release of the above vehicles, it has been pointed out that owner will have to file applications before the Jurisdictional Magistrates.

Courts of the jurisdictional Magistrates will be flooded with such applications and will lead to crowding of Courts.

Thus in view of the above, State Government sought direction permitting jurisdiction Police Officers to exercise the power under sub-section (3) of Section 102 of CrPC to handover the custody of seize vehicles.

In view of the huge number of vehicles beings seized, a great deal of urgency  was seen and thus the State Government was requested to immediately take up present IA.

AGA while pointing out sub-section (3) of Section 102 CrPC, submitted that firstly, such large number of vehicles cannot be conveniently transported to the jurisdictional Courts and secondly, it is difficult to secure a proper accommodation for safe custody of such large number of vehicles.

He also submitted that along with the above stated Sections for penalisation, Section 179 of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 may also be attracted.

Bench agreeing with the AGA’s submission stated that,

in case of such seizure of vehicles for the offences relating to breach of the directions concerning COVID-19, it will be open for the jurisdictional Police Officers to exercise the powers under sub- section (3) of Section 102 of Cr.P.C and to give custody of the vehicles in terms of sub-section (3) of Section 102 to the owners.

It will be appropriate if the power under sub-section (3) of Section 102 of CrPC is exercised by the jurisdictional Police Officers on an application made by the owners of the vehicles.

Court’s Order

  • Persons claiming to be the owners of the vehicles which have been seized for violation of various orders issued concerning COVID-19 make an application to the jurisdictional Police Officers to grant custody of the seized vehicles, after verification of the ownership of the applicants, it will be open for the jurisdictional Police Officers to give custody of the seized vehicles to the owners by exercising the powers under Section 102 (3) of CrPC.
  • Prosecution of the alleged offenders will remain unaffected.
  • Present Order will apply only to seizure of the vehicles within the limits of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike.
  • In future, if vehicles are seized within the limits of BBMP by the jurisdictional Police Officers for the similar breaches, the custody of the vehicles can be given to owners on the same terms and conditions.

[Mohammed Arif Jameel v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine Kar 448  , decided on 30-04-2020]

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