Chhattisgarh High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: Rajani Dubey, J., dismissed the petition being devoid of merits.

The facts of the case are that a tractor and trolley was found carrying illegal timber woods in Tamor Pingla Sanctuary Area, Sarguja Forest Circle, Ambikapur. The said vehicle was driven by driver and the owner of the vehicle was also present. After interrogation by the Forest Officer, an offence punishable under Sections 27, 29, 31, 50 & 52 of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 and Section 26 (1) (e) (f) of the Indian Forest Act, 1927 was registered against the driver and owner of the said and thereafter the said vehicle including timbers was seized. Thereafter, show cause notice was given regarding confiscation of the vehicle and finding the reply unsatisfactory, confiscation order was passed. Against the said order of confiscation, the petitioner filed appeal before the respondent 2, which was dismissed, against which the petitioner filed criminal revision before the learned 3rd Additional Sessions Judge, Ambikapur, District Sarguja which too was dismissed. Hence, present petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India has been filed.

Counsel for the petitioner submitted that the accused persons have been acquitted by the Criminal Court, thus no offence has been proved against the petitioner and therefore the proceeding of confiscation of the vehicle is illegal and arbitrary.

The Court observed that a bare reading of Section 52, Indian Forest Act, 1927 makes it clear that Forest Officer has power to confiscate the vehicle and the Competent Authority after giving show cause notice to the petitioner.

The Court observed that the  ASJ in the impugned order clearly held that criminal trial and confiscation proceedings may run simultaneously and once the information of confiscation proceeding under Section 52 (e) of the Indian Forest Act is given to the District Magistrate, then the Trial Magistrate has no power regarding confiscated vehicle of being released, disposed etc. and it has been further held that the information of confiscation proceeding was already given to the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Ambikapur and the accused were given ample opportunity of being heard and only thereafter the orders were passed and thereby dismissed the criminal revision of the petitioner.

The Court held “the finding of the learned ASJ that the criminal trial and confiscation proceeding are different proceedings and they may run simultaneously and even after acquittal of the accused persons, the vehicle was found to be involved in transportation of illegal timbers and the same was liable to be confiscated and the accused were given ample opportunity of being heard, is based on proper appreciation of provisions of law and facts as well, which cannot be interfered with by this Court.”

[Gend Lal Kushwaha v. State of Chhattisgarh, 2022 SCC OnLine Chh 617, decided on 01-04-2022]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

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.


Appearances:

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]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Orissa High Court: S.K. Panigrahi J., granted bail to an accused of animal trafficking under Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 on the facts and submissions of the case.

The facts are that on 19.05.2020 patrolling staff of Kuntuni range forest area received information regarding the transportation of pangolin in a scooty having no number plate. The scooty was chased and caught, the live pangolin was rescued and the driver detained on not being able to produce valid documents regarding the same. On further investigation, it was revealed that the present petitioner is also involved. They were registered for alleged offences under Sections 9, 39, 44 and 49 of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 Amended and punishable under Section 51 of the said Act and is in custody. Hence the instant application is filed praying for bail.

Counsel for the petitioner submitted that the petitioner is a teacher by profession and has been framed and has no complicity in the offence. He further submitted that the accused has no direct link with the crime as he only gave certain phone numbers having no idea about the crime and is fit to be granted bail.

Counsel for the respondents submitted that such offences require to be dealt strictly by court as the pangolins are close to extinction due to being exposed to rampant trafficking and poaching.

After hearing both sides the court held that though animal trafficking is a serious crime and has to be stopped but given due consideration to the present facts and submissions Court granted bail.

In view of the above, application was disposed off.[Shyamsundar Behera v. State of Orissa, 2020 SCC OnLine Ori 595, decided on 10-08-2020]


*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this story together