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Sardar Finance Corporation Vs. State of U.P. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1978CriLJ1469
AppellantSardar Finance Corporation
RespondentState of U.P.
Cases ReferredIn Thakur Das v. State of Madhya Pradesh
Excerpt:
.....confiscating the truck in question, when it did not file any appeal against a similar order passed by the collector on 25-10-1976. admittedly, in the proceedings under section 6a of the essential commodities act, the collector had passed the order dated 25-10-1976 behind the back of the applicant. the only order against which the applicant could have filed an appeal effectively was order dated 22-2-1977. 8. now i proceed to take the case on merits. 6-a (1) where any essential commodity is seized in pursuance of an order made under section 3 in relation thereto a report to this effect shall, without any unreasonable delay, be sent to the collector of the district in which the seizure is made, and the collector may if he thinks it expedient so to do, inspect or cause to be inspected..........in tracing out truck no. mpi 3990. they seized that truck. this truck had been taken by satnam singh chawla on hire purchase basis from the applicant (m/s. sardar finance corporation). satnam singh chawla made an application in the court of judicial magistrate bidhuna for the release of his truck. the magistrate concerned directed satnam singh chawla to produce papers regarding his title to the truck. the applicant (m/s. sardar finance corporation) also filed an application in the court of judicial magistrate bidhuna for the release of the truck in its favour. as satnam singh chawla did not file any papers regarding his title to the truck, the learned judicial magistrate passed an order on 1-7-1976 releasing the truck in favour of the applicant. hari ram of m/s. narain das hari ram.....
Judgment:
ORDER

V.N. Varma, J.

1. This revision is directed against an order dated 26-7-1977 passed by Sessions Judge Etawah, confirming the order dated 22-2-1977 passed by District Magistrate, Etawah, confiscating Truck No. M. P. I. 3990 in a case under the Essential Commodities Act.

2. Tagged to this revision is writ petition No. 2965 of 1977 also filed by the applicant. Through this writ petition also the applicant wants that orders dated 22-2-1977 and 26-7-1977 referred to above be quashed. The applicant filed this writ petition by way of caution because on the date on which it had filed the present revision, it was not sure whether this revision was legally maintainable or not. Now the position in regard to the filing of a revision like this, has become quite clear. In Thakur Das v. State of Madhya Pradesh : 1978CriLJ1 it has been held that a Sessions Court while hearing appeal under Section 6C of the Essential Commodities Act is an inferior Criminal Court in relation to High Court and as such the order passed by the Sessions Court is amenable to revisional jurisdiction of the High Court. In view of this, the learned Counsel for the applicant did not press the writ petition.

3. On 3-5-1976 the Senior Marketing Inspector, Jaswantnagar had to send 100 bags of levy wheat of Food Corporation of India Ltd., to Etawah. He contacted M/s. Narain Das Hari Ram to supply a Truck for the above purpose. They supplied Truck No. M. P. I. 3990 and on this Truck 100 bags of wheat were loaded for being transported to Etawah. The Truck carrying these bags did not reach Etawah, whereupon on 4-5-1976 Hari Ram, one of the proprietors of M/s. Narain Das Hari Ram, lodged a report with the police against the drivers of the truck. A case under Sections 406/411, I.P.C. and Section 7, Essential Commodities Act was registered. The police immediately took action in the matter and succeeded in tracing out Truck No. MPI 3990. They seized that truck. This Truck had been taken by Satnam Singh Chawla on hire purchase basis from the applicant (M/s. Sardar Finance Corporation). Satnam Singh Chawla made an application in the Court of Judicial Magistrate Bidhuna for the release of his Truck. The Magistrate concerned directed Satnam Singh Chawla to produce papers regarding his title to the Truck. The applicant (M/s. Sardar Finance Corporation) also filed an application in the Court of Judicial Magistrate Bidhuna for the release of the Truck in its favour. As Satnam Singh Chawla did not file any papers regarding his title to the truck, the learned Judicial Magistrate passed an order on 1-7-1976 releasing the truck in favour of the applicant. Hari Ram of M/s. Narain Das Hari Ram lost no time and filed a revision in the Court of Session against the Magistrate's order dated 1-7-1976. The learned Sessions Judge dismissed that revision on 24-7-1976 holding that it was not maintainable under law. Hari Ram then hastened to file an application in this Court under Section 482, Criminal P.C. and prayed for quashing orders dated 1-7-1976 and 24-7-1976 referred to above. In the proceedings under Section 482, Criminal P. C. Hari Ram alleged that the Judicial Magistrate Bidhuna had no jurisdiction to release the truck in favour of the applicant because at the time when the learned Magistrate passed the release order, proceedings under Section 6-A of the Essential Commodities Act were pending before Collector Etawah and, therefore, it was the Collector Etawah only who could have passed an order in regard to the Truck in question. This Court accepted the contention of Hari Ram. allowed his application and quashed the order releasing the truck in favour of the applicant.

4. In proceedings under Section 6-A of the Essential Commodities Act the Collector Etawah, without giving any notice to the applicant passed an order on 25-10-1976 confiscating the Truck in favour of the State. As soon as the applicant came to know of this order, it gave an application for its review on the ground that the confiscation order was passed behind its back. The Collector Etawah felt that injustice had been done to the applicant and he, therefore, reopened the matter. He heard the applicant and again on 22-2-1977 passed an order confiscating the truck in favour of the State. The applicant went up in appeal to the Court of Session against the order passed by the Collector. The Sessions Judge dismissed its appeal and hence the present revision.

5. I have heard the learned Counsel for the parties at sufficient length and I may say here at once that the order passed by the learned Sessions Judge in this case is totally unsustainable. On the face of it, he has not viewed this case in its proper perspective with the result that he completely went off the rails. I find that the learned Judge has held against the applicant on three counts : (1) the ownership of the truck in question at the time when the confiscation order was passed, (2) that the applicant was estopped from assailing the Impugned order D/- 22-7-1977 as it did not file any appeal against the order dated 25-10-1977 passed earlier by the Collector and (3) that the applicant has failed to make out any case on merits for the revocation of the confiscation order. I now proceed to take up these points one by one.

6. Admittedly, the applicant is a financing company and its main business is to advance money to persons who purchase motor vehicles but are not in a position to find ready money to pay the price. The course of business followed by the applicant is to enter into hire purchase agreements with those who want to purchase motor vehicles. It is not in dispute that one Satnam Singh Chawla entered into a hire purchase agreement with the applicant in regard to the disputed truck. The hire purchase agreement dated 8-4-1974 is on the record of the case. This agreement shows that the price of the truck was Rs. 75,000/- out of which Satnam Singh Chawla had paid Rs. 1,900/-. He was to pay the balance in 23 equal monthly instalments of Rs. 3,165/- each. The agreement also shows that the proprietary right in the Truck was not to vest in the hirer until he had exercised his option of purchase after paying the entire money. In the light of this hire purchase agreement we have to see what was the position regarding the ownership of the truck on the date (3-5-1976) on which it was seized by the police The learned Sessions Judge has remarked that by 3-5-1976 all the 23 equal monthly instalments of Rs. 3,165/- must have been paid by Satnam Singh Chawla and, therefore, the ownership in the Truck must have passed to him. In other words, what he intended to mean was that the applicant was not the owner of the truck on 3-5-1976. Firstly there is nothing on record to show that Satnam Singh Chawla had, in fact, paid all the 23 instalments of Rs. 3,165/- each. Cases are to be decided on facts, and not on presumptions. Secondly, even if he had paid all the instalments, there is nothing on record to show that in terms of the hire purchase agreement he had exercised his option of purchase. So long as the option is not exercised, the ownership in the truck will continue to vest in the financier, that is, the applicant. Even Satnam Singh Chawla has filed an affidavit in this Court to say that he is not the owner of the Truck and it was the applicant who was really its owner. The learned Sessions Judge was, therefore, absolutely wrong when he held that on 3-5-1976 the applicant had ceased to be the owner of the disputed Truck. The fact of the matter was that the applicant was the owner of the Truck on that date, and being the aggrieved party was certainly entitled to approach the Collector for revoking the confiscation order.

7. On the facts and circumstances of the case I fail to understand how the learned Sessions Judge took the view that the applicant was estopped from assailing the order dated 22-7-1977 confiscating the Truck in question, when it did not file any appeal against a similar order passed by the Collector on 25-10-1976. Admittedly, in the proceedings under Section 6A of the Essential Commodities Act, the Collector had passed the order dated 25-10-1976 behind the back of the applicant. The applicant was the owner of the truck and J. M. Bidhuna had released the Truck in its favour on 1-7-1976. Therefore, in all fairness the Collector should have issued notice to the applicant before passing the order dated 25-10-1976. Instead of giving notice to the applicant, I find that he had given notice to Satnam Singh Chawla. Satnam Singh Chawla had no interest in the Truck, and, therefore, he never came forward to contest the proceedings under Section 6A of the Essential Commodities Act. Therefore it was more or less, in an ex parte proceeding that the Collector passed the confiscation order dated 25-10-1976. As soon as the applicant came to know of this confiscation order, it gave an application for its review. The Collector felt that injustice had been done to the applicant and he agreed to hear its review application on merits. He then heard the applicant and passed the impugned order dated 22-2-1977 again confiscating the Truck in favour of the State. Obviously, order dated 25-10-1976 stood superseded by order dated 22-2-1977. There was, therefore, no point in filing an appeal against the order dated 25-10-1976. The order which held the field at that time was order dated 22-2-1977 and the appellant, therefore, rightly filed an appeal against it in the Court of Session. The view taken by the learned Sessions Judge that the applicant was barred from assailing the order dated 22-2-1977 because it did not file any appeal against the order dated 25-10-1976 is patently wrong. The only order against which the applicant could have filed an appeal effectively was order dated 22-2-1977.

8. Now I proceed to take the case on merits. Admittedly, the confiscation order dated 22-2-1977 was passed in proceedings under Section 6A of the Essential Commodities Act. It appears to me that the Courts below decided this case on the basis of the unamended Essential Commodities Act, 1955. Some of the provisions of this Act were amended by U. P. Act No. 1,8 of 1975. Now the relevant portion of Section 6A in the amended form reads as follows:

6-A (1) Where any essential commodity is seized in pursuance of an order made under Section 3 in relation thereto a report to this effect shall, without any unreasonable delay, be sent to the Collector of the district in which the seizure is made, and the Collector may if he thinks it expedient so to do, inspect or cause to be inspected such essential commodity and whether, or not a prosecution is instituted for the contravention of such order, the Collector if satisfied that there has been 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:

Provided that, without prejudice to any action that may be taken under any other provision of this Act, no foodgrains or edible oilseeds seized in pursuance of an order made under Section 3 in relation thereto from a producer shall if the seized foodgrains or edible oilseeds have been produced by him, be confiscated under this section:

Provided further that where any animal, vehicle, vessel or other conveyance is used for the carriage of goods or passengers for hire, the owner of such animal, vehicle, vessel or other conveyance shall be given an option to pay in lieu of its confiscation a fine not exceeding the market price at the date of seizure of the essential commodity sought to be carried.

9. A perusal of the above section would show that a vehicle carrying essential commodity can be confiscated only when that essential commodity has been seized in pursuance of an order made under Section 3 of the Act. In the instant case, the levy wheat that was being transported on the Truck in question from Jaswant Nagar to Etawah had never been seized at any time. That being so, the provisions of Section 6A never came into play and the Collector was not legally competent to order for the confiscation of this Truck. Even the learned Counsel for the State conceded this thing before me. Such being the position there can be no doubt about the fact that the order dated 22-2-1977 passed by the Collector confiscating Truck No. MPI 3990 was without jurisdiction, and not legally maintainable. The Truck belongs to the applicant and it must go to it.

10. In the result, I allow this revision and set aside the impugned order dated 26-7-1977. Truck No. MPI 3990 is ordered to be released in favour of the applicant.

11. Writ Petition No. 2985 of 1977 is dismissed as being not maintainable. No order as to costs.


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