K. Jagannatha Shetty, J.
1. The facts leading up to the petition are:
On 25th July, 1975, two lorries bearing No. MYJ 5289 and MEL 4938 were found loaded with paddy and moving without permit, apparently to Dharwar District via Agasanahalli Food Gate of Sorab Taluk. It is said that the petitioner's jeep bearing No. MYS 9981 was also found moving in front of the lorries. No paddy was noticed in the jeep. The Sub-Inspector of Anavatti Police Station seized the said) lorries and produced them before the Judicial Magistrate, Sagar. The learned Magistrate has released the lorries against security on the claims made by the owners. Now the Deputy Commissioner of Shimoga District has taken proceedings for the confiscation of the foodgrains and the lorries. The proceedings are still pending. The Sub-Inspector did not seize the jeep on the date when he saw it in front of the said lorries. On 27th July 1975, he traced the jeep in a motor garage at Shimoffa and immediately seized the same. He obtained an order from the Deputy Commissioner to keep the jeep in the Police custody. On coming to know of these events, the petitioner approached the Deputy Commissioner with a request to release the jeep. On that application, the Deputy Commissioner made a short order reading thus:I have carefully considered the request made by the Advocate and I don't consider it desirable or necessary to release the vehicle even on surety and as the vehicle is clearly used for purpose other than agriculture.
Without any other alternate remedies, the petitioner has moved this Court for relief under Article 226 of the Constitution. He not only questions the correctness of the order of the Deputy Commissioner, but also the validity of seizure of the jeep.
2. On the question of seizure, I think that the petitioner has a good case. The vehicle could be seized and detained if it could be confiscated in the proceedings under Section 6-A of the Essential Commodities Act. Section 6-A after its recent amendment provides:
Section 6-A. Confiscation of foodgrains, edible oil seeds and edible oils where any essential commodity is seized in pursuance of an order made under Section 3 in relation thereto, it may be produced without any unreasonable delay, before the Collector of the District or the Presidency Town in which such essential commodity is seized and whether or not a prosecution is instituted for the contravention of such order, the Collector, if satisfied that there has been a contravention of the order, may order confiscation of-
(a) the essential commodity so seized;
(b) any package, covering or receptacle in which such essential commodity is found; and
(c) any animal, vehicle, vessel or other conveyance used in carrying such essential commodity.
It is clear from the above provisions that the power is conferred on the Deputy Commissioner to confiscate any animal, vehicle, vessel or other conveyance, if it is used in carrying the essential commodities. In the instant case, it is plain from the report of the Sub-Inspector of Police that the jeep in question was not found or used for carrying any essential commodity. It was found moving in front of the lorries which were loaded with paddy. That by itself is no around for its seizure. Unless the vehicle was used for carrying the essential commodity, the Deputy Commissioner has no jurisdiction to initiate proceedings for its confiscation, much less the Police to seize it The order of the Deputy Commissioner, to say the least, is patently illegal and arbitrary.
3. In the result, the rule is made absolute. The order of the Deputy Commissioner is quashed. A mandamus shall issue to the respondents to release the jeep MYS 9981 to the petitioner.
4. In the circumstances, no costs.