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State by Forest Range Officer, Tiruvallur District Vs. P. Subash - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCrl.R.C.No. 626 of 2016 & Crl.MP.No. 4372 of 2016
Judge
AppellantState by Forest Range Officer, Tiruvallur District
RespondentP. Subash
Excerpt:
.....magistrate, pallipattu on 08.02.2016. the seized vehicle was produced before the district forest officer, tiruvallur. the district forest officer, tiruvallur issued show cause notice to the owner of the car under sections 49a and 49b of the tamil nadu forest act, 1882 in na.ka.no.0/535/16 dated 07.03.2016. after receiving notice the present respondent filed wp.no.11883 of 2016 before this court, the same was dismissed as withdrawn on 30.03.2016. in the meanwhile, the respondent herein filed cmp.no.322 of 2016 on the file of district munsif-cum-judicial magistrate, pallipattu, the forest range officer, pallipattu recorded his objection for release of the vehicle. the learned trial court by an order dated released the vehicle/mahindra xylo bearing registration no.tn 25 ak 7644 for.....
Judgment:

(Prayer: Criminal Revision Petition filed under Section 397 r/w 401 of Cr.P.C. to set aside the order dated 09.03.2016 passed in CMP.No.322 of 2016 on the file of District Munsif-cum-Judicial Magistrate, Pallipattu in STOR.No.1 of 2016 on the file of the Forest Range Officer, Pallipattu.)

1. This Criminal Revision is directed against the order passed by the learned District Munsif-cum-Judicial Magistrate, Pallipattu made in CMP.No.322 of 2016 dated 09.03.2016 in STOR.No.1 of 2016 on the file of Forest Range Officer, Pallipattu, for returning the property to the respondent herein.

2. The learned counsel for the petitioner mainly contended that according to the prosecution case, on 07.02.2016 at about 17.00hrs Circle Inspector, R.K.Pettai, Tiruvallur along with police party while doing regular vehicle check up intercepted the vehicle/car bearing Registration No.TN25 AK 7644, the car stopped before the check post and the driver and the other person try to abandon the vehicle and run away, but the police party caught hold of them and seized the vehicle.

3. It is further submitted that on verification, it is found that one red sanders logs were kept in the back seat and 15 logs were kept underneath the middle seat. The driver Sathishkumar and the Jayaprakash have no permit or license neither to possess nor to transport the red sanders wooden logs. Hence, the case was registered under Section 34 and 35 of the T.N.Forests Act, 1882 and Rule 9 of Timber Transport Rules, 1968 by the Forest Range Officer, Pallipattu in STOR.No.1 of 2016 and remanded before the District Munsif-cum-Judicial Magistrate, Pallipattu on 08.02.2016. The seized vehicle was produced before the District Forest Officer, Tiruvallur. The District Forest Officer, Tiruvallur issued show cause notice to the owner of the car under Sections 49A and 49B of the Tamil Nadu Forest Act, 1882 in Na.Ka.No.0/535/16 dated 07.03.2016. After receiving notice the present respondent filed WP.No.11883 of 2016 before this Court, the same was dismissed as withdrawn on 30.03.2016. In the meanwhile, the respondent herein filed CMP.No.322 of 2016 on the file of District Munsif-cum-Judicial Magistrate, Pallipattu, the Forest Range Officer, Pallipattu recorded his objection for release of the vehicle. The learned trial Court by an order dated released the vehicle/Mahindra Xylo bearing Registration No.TN 25 AK 7644 for interim custody. The trial Court without considering the proceedings initiated under Sections 49A and 49B of the Forest Act and without following the rulings of the Hon'ble Supreme Court released the vehicle for interim custody. The said vehicle involved in illegally transporting red sander logs which comes under Schedule I of the Timber Act prohibited under the Tamil Nadu Forest Act. The learned counsel prays to set aside the order of the trial Court and to allow the criminal revision filed by the petitioner.

4. Heard the learned counsel for the petitioner and perused the entire record.

5. It is seen from the records that one Sathishkumar and Jayaprakash was arrested by the Forest Range Officer, Pallipattu for illegally transporting the red sander logs, on the basis of the complaint given by the Inspector of Police, R.K.Pettai, Tiruvallur. The District Forest Officer, Tiruvallur issued show cause notice to the owner of the vehicle, on receipt of the notice the respondent herein filed WP.No.11883 of 2016, and the same was withdrawn by the petitioner, this Court passed the following order which reads as follows :-

After some argument, and after this Court expressed its opinion that the Writ petition is not maintainable, learned counsel for the petitioner seeks permission of the Court to withdraw this Writ Petition. He has also made an endorsement to that effect.

2. Permission is granted and this Writ Petition is dismissed, as withdrawn. No costs. Consequently, the connected WMP.Nos.10255 and 10256 of 2016 are closed.

6. It is useful to refer Sections 49A and 49B of the Tamil Nadu Forest Act, 1882, which are as follows :-

"49A - Confiscation by Forest Officers in certain cases :-(1)Notwithstanding anything contained in the foregoing provisions of the Chapter or in any other law for the time being in force, where a forest offence is believed to have been committed in respect of any scheduled timber which is the property of the Government, the officer seizing the property under sub section (1) of Section 41 shall, without any unreasonable delay, produce it together with all tools, ropes, chains, boats, vehicles and cattle used in committing such offences, before an officer not below the rank of an Assistant Conservator of Forests authorised by the Government in this behalf, by notification, in the Tamil Nadu Government Gazettee (herein after referred to as the authorised officer).

(2) Where the authorised officer himself seizes under Sub Section(1) of Section 41, any scheduled timber which is the property of the Government or where any such property is produced before the authorised officer under Sub section (I) and he is satisfied that a forest offence has been committed in respect of such property, such authorised officer may, whether or not a prosecution is instituted for the commission of such forest offence, order confiscation of the property so seized together with all tools, ropes, chains, boats, vehicles and cattle used in committing such offence.

(3) (a)Where the authorised officer after passing an order of confiscation under Sub Section (2) is of the opinion that it is expedient in the public interest so to do, he may order the confiscated property or any part thereof to be sold by public auction.

(b) Where any confiscated property is sold as aforesaid, the proceed thereof after deduction of the expenses of any such auction or other incidental expenses relating thereto shall, where the order of confiscation made under this section is set aside or annulled by an order under Section 49-C or Section 49-D, be paid to the owner thereof or to the person from whom it was seized as may be specified in such order.

49-B. Issue of show cause notice before confiscation under Section 49A :(1)No order confiscating any scheduled timber or tools, ropes, chains, boars, vehicles or cattle shall be made under Section 49-A except after notice in writing to the person from whom it is seized informing him of the grounds on which it is proposed to confiscate it and considering his objections if any:

Provided that no order confiscating a motor vehicle shall be made except after giving notice in writing to the registered owner thereof, if, in the opinion of the authorised officer, it is practicable to do so and considering his objections if any.

(2) Without prejudice to the provisions of sub section (1) no order confiscating any tool, rope, chain, boat, vehicle or cattle shall be made under Section 49-A if the owner of the tool, rope, chain, boat, vehicle or cattle proves to the satisfaction of the authorised officer that it was used in carrying timber without the knowledge or connivance of the owner himself, his agent if any, and the person in charge of the tool, rope, chain, boat, vehicle or cattle and that each of them had taken all reasonable and necessary precautions against such use."

7. Admittedly, after receiving notice issued by the District Forest Officer, Tiruvallur the respondent herein filed WP.No.11883 of 2016 to quash the enquiry notice issued by theDistrict Forest Officer, Tiruvallur. The same was dismissed as withdrawn by the petitioner on 30.03.2016. Further, enquiry notice was issued to the respondent herein, and the enquiry initiated by the District Forest Officer, Tiruvallur is pending. During pendency of the enquiry proceedings initiated by the District Forest Officer, Tiruvallur, it is not proper on the part of the trial Court to return the vehicle to the respondent herein, which involved in transportation of red sander logs which is prescribed as Schedule I of the Timber Act prohibited under the Tamil Nadu Forest Act.

8. In view of the above facts and circumstances and considering the fact that the District Forest Officer, Tiruvallur who is the competent authority, issued enquiry notice to the owner of the vehicle and the same is pending for enquiry. At this stage, the order of the trial Court in returning the vehicle to the respondent herein towards interim custody is liable to be set aside and the same is hereby set aside.

9. In the result, the criminal revision is allowed by setting aside the order dated 09.03.2016 made in CMP.No.322 of 2016 on the file of the learned District Munsif-cum-Judicial Magistrate, Pallipattu. The learned trial Court is directed to take steps to recover the vehicle from the respondent as expeditiously as possible. Consequently, connected miscellaneous petition is closed.


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