Karnataka High Court: K. Natarajan J. allowed the criminal petition and directed the respondent IO to release the petitioner-accused 1 on bail.

The facts of the case are such that on the credible information received on 05-08-2021, the Forest Officers intercepted the WagonR Car at 5.25 p.m. and they found four persons who were travelling with 8.25 kgs of ambergris. The persons were apprehended and put to judicial custody. The accused persons during investigation named the petitioner as the main accused and hence the main accused is now apprehending arrest. The instant petition was filed by the petitioner-accused 1 under Section 438 of Cr.P.C. for granting anticipatory bail in matter registered for the offences punishable under Sections 2(32), 2(36),  39(B)(D), 40, 44, 48(A), 49(A), 49(B), 50, 51, Schedule-II, Part-II, Serial No.5A of Wild Life Protection  Act, 1972.

The Court observed that as per Section 167 (2) Criminal Procedure Code i.e. Cr.P.C., the Investigation Officer has not filed  the charge sheet within the prescribed time. The name of the petitioner is taken as an accused on the voluntary statement of other accused persons. Nothing was recovered from the petitioner. The alleged offences are neither punishable with death or imprisonment of life. It was further observed that the Sessions Court has already granted bail to the accused 2 to 5 and ambergris was recovered by the forest department.

The Court thus granted bail to the accused subject to certain bail conditions.[Sri Riyaz v, State of Karnataka, Criminal petition No. 7887 of 2021, decided on 04-12-2021]

Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


For petitioner: Mr. Prateek HC

For respondent: Mr, Krishna Kumar KK

Additional Reading:

What is Ambergris?

Ambergris means gray amber in French, is a waxy substance that originates from the digestive system of the protected sperm whales. While it is incorrectly referred to as ‘whale vomit,’ one of the theories about its formation suggests that it is produced in the gastrointestinal tract of some of the sperm whales for the passage of hard, sharp objects that are ingested when the whale eats large quantities of marine animals. The ambergris is said to be passed like feces and has a very strong fecal odour combined with a strong marine odour. The freshly passed ambergris is a light yellowish substance and is fatty but as it ages it turns waxy and gets red brownish, sometimes with shades of gray and black in colour and attains a mild, earthy, sweet smell but still with notes of mild marine odour.

What are the uses of ambergris and why is it so expensive?

Investigating agencies from across India who have seized ambergris in the recent past estimate its value to be somewhere between Rs 1 to 2 crores per kilogram, depending on the purity and quality. Officials say that being extremely rare contributes to its high demand and high price in the international market. Traditionally, ambergris is used to produce perfumes which have notes of musk. While there are records of it being used to flavor food, alcoholic beverages and tobacco in some cultures in the past, it is rarely used for these purposes presently.

A forest department official in Pune who was part of investigation into the seizure of ambergris in August said, “Trade and sale of Ambergris is banned in nearly 40 countries. While in our case, it was procured from somewhere in coastal Karnataka, we now know that ambergris is procured mainly from coastal areas of other states too. It is also believed that the key market for ambergris is in the Middle Eastern countries, select European and South East Asian countries. There are also reports that it is considered as an aphrodisiac and is used in some medicines.”

Source: [Indian Express]

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