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Kirana General Merchants Association Vs. the Circle Inspector and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1975CriLJ955
AppellantKirana General Merchants Association
RespondentThe Circle Inspector and ors.
Excerpt:
- - direction it is stated by the learned government pleader that the goods have not been sold and they are kedt in safe custody......decay,. i do not think that the order of the magistrate should be allowed to stand. the order of the magistrate is, therefore, set aside. the writ petition is, therefore, allowed to that extent. the criminal revision case, however, is dismissed.8. both the counsel for petitioner and the learned government pleader appearing before me have agreed that the-goods seized may be sold at the market rate. therefore, there shall be a direction to the magistrate to sell the goods of the market rate either through court or through the tahsildar or the district revenue officer of the district, realise the sale proceeds and deposit the same to the credit of the criminal case pending be-sore the munsif magistrate. ordered accordingly. no costs. advocate's fee rupees 100/- only.
Judgment:
ORDER

Madhava Reddy, J.

1. This writ petition and the Criminal Revision Case arise out of orders passed bv the Munsif Magistrate. Nara-yankhed in Crime Nos. 75. 76. 77 and 78 of 1973.

2. Certain foodgrains beinc transported in four lorries were seized from the cossession of the drivers of the said lorries bv the Police and wore produced before the Munsif Magistrate's Court Naravankhed. The learned Magistrate by his order dated 22-9-1973 directed that as there is no nlace in the Court, the rice, iawar and susar with the eunnv baas may be sold bv the Tahsildar. Narayankhed, at the rates fixed by him and also directed the deposit of the amounts realised in the court. Against that order, the Kirana General Merchants' Association, Jogipet, represented by its Secretary has filed the above writ petition. They have also moved the Maeistrate by wav of a Criminal M P. No. 276 of 1973 to release the goods in their favour contending that no offence was committed in respect of the said fooderains. That oetition was rejected bv the Magistrate by his order dated 29-9-1973, against which the said association has filed Crl. R. C. No. 499 of 1973.

3. When the goods are seized by the Police regarding which any offence appears to have been committed, they have power to seize and produce them before a Magistrate. In respect of the above mentioned goods, they were evidently seized because it was suspected that an offence punishable under the provisions of the Essential Commodities Act read with Bejodgrains Dealers Licensing Order or Hie Restriction on the Movement of Food-firains within the Belt area was committed. Therefore, the police was within its nover in seizing and producing the Roods before the Magistrate. Under Section 516-A of the Criminal Procedure Coda {Section 451 of the New Criminal Procedure Code) if the property is subject to speedy or natural decay, or if it is Haerwise expedient so to do. the Magistrate is empowered to order such goods to be sold or otherwise disposed of. ' Though rice, jawar and sugar which are seked and produced before the Magistrate are not subject to speedy and natural decay in the ordinary circumstances, but inasmuch as they were in-gunny bags and loaded in open trucks., exposed to sun and rain in the Court compound, they were liable to speedy and natural decay unless properly preserved. The learned Magistrate has found that there is no soace within the court premises to store them. Having regard to the circumstances, it must be assumed that the goods produced before the Court were liable to decay. If no orders were passed expeditiouslv for their disDosal otherwise, they were likely to be damaged which would not be beneficial either to the accused in tlie event of their being acquitted or to the State in the event of their being con-Mscated ultimately. Therefore, in the circumstances, it cannot be said that the order of the Magistrate dated 22-9-1973 was erroneous or without jurisdiction.

4. As the goods were seized by .the Police and it, appears that some offence has been committed with respect to Kkose goods, the petitioner or the accused are not entitled to the release of the Hoods at this stage. Who is entitled to the release of the goods will have to await the result of the enquiry or trial before -the Court

5. It was argued before me that in respec of the Mine floods proceedings under Section 6A of the Essential Com-' modities Act were taken before the District Revenue Officer and the same are pending, and that the District Revenue Officer pending disposal of the enquiry has directed the release of the goods in favour of the petitioner Association on furnishing security and on giving an undertaking that the same goods or similar quantity of goods' would be produced as and when directed. Be that as it may, the order of the District Revenue Officer who is seized of the proceedings under Section 6A of the Essential Commodities Act, cannot have any effect with regard to the goods now under the custody of the Magistrate before whom they are produced after registering a crime. Those goods being subject to the jurisdiction of the Criminal Court cannot be disposed of or released in accordance with the directions of the District Revenue Officer. The Magistrate dealing with the case will have absolute jurisdiction over the same. Therefore, under the orders of the District Revenue Officer, the goods cannot be released in favour of the petitioner.

6. The order of the Magistrate, however, suffers from one infirmity. While the Magistrates before whom such goods are Droduced can always direct the disposal of the goods in accordance with Section 516-A, Criminal Procedure Code they cannot direct that they should be sold at such rates as raay be fixed by the Tahsil-dar. The Tahsildar has no jurisdiction to fix the price nor the Magistrate has power to direct the goods to be sold at any price to be fixed by him or any onte else, Sugar, rice and jawar are available in open market and there is no price fixed for them under the provisions of the Essential Commodities Act or the orders issued thereittider. Therefore, that portion of the order is erroneous and cannot be allowed to stand.

7. It is stated by both the counsel appearing before me that interim. orders were passed by this Court in Crl. M. P. No. 1587 of 1973, directing that the goods-shall not be sold pending disposal of the criminal revision case. In view of that; direction it is stated by the learned Government Pleader that the goods have not been sold and they are keDt in safe custody. When the goods have now beera safely held without disposal and are not now subject to speedy or natural decay,. I do not think that the order of the Magistrate should be allowed to stand. The order of the Magistrate is, therefore, set aside. The writ petition is, therefore, allowed to that extent. The Criminal Revision Case, however, is dismissed.

8. Both the counsel for petitioner and the learned Government Pleader appearing before me have agreed that the-goods seized may be sold at the market rate. Therefore, there shall be a direction to the Magistrate to sell the goods of the market rate either through Court or through the Tahsildar or the District Revenue Officer of the District, realise the sale proceeds and deposit the same to the credit of the Criminal Case pending be-Sore the Munsif Magistrate. Ordered accordingly. No costs. Advocate's fee Rupees 100/- only.


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