1. This petition under Article 226 of the Constitution arises out of the following facts :
Petitioner 1 owns a loading vehicle (Matador) bearing Registration No. CPF 9973 and carries on the business of carrier by hiring out the said vehicle. On 29-11-1982 the said vehicle was in charge of petitioner 2 who is the brother of petitioner 1 and was given on hire to one Shri Chiranjilal. The vehicle was checked by the officers of the Forest Department at Indore Checking Post. 86 logs of sagwan wood, which is a specified forest produce under the M. P. Van Upaj (Vyapar Viniyaman): Adhiniyam, 1969 (hereinafter referred to as the State Act were found in the said vehicle, and were seized. The vehicle was also seized by the Checking Party, On 17-12-1982 the Divisional Forest Officer, Dhar respondent 1, passed an Order (Annexure 'A') determining Rs. 30,000/- as the value of the vehicle and further directing that if the said amount was not paid within 90 days, the vehicle will be treated to have been confiscated. Bv the said order respondent 1 levied a penalty of Rs. 2000/- on petitioner 2. It is stated in the petition that the petitioners have not paid the aforesaid amount and they do not intend to pay the same. The petitioners have challenged the said order (An-nexure 'A') passed by respondent 1 in this petition on the ground that respondent 1 had no jurisdiction to pass the said order. The petitioners have also prayed that respondents be directed to restore the Matador Vehicle belonging to petitioner 1.
2. In the return it is stated that petitioner 2 and one Ramprasad were in the vehicle at the time of checking and that the vehicle contained 63 logs of timber of the category of specified forest produce. The remaining 23 logs which were less than 2 meters in leneth were not covered by the provisions of the State Act but action in respect of these logs was taken under the provisions of the Forest Act (hereinafter referred to as the Central Act). It is further stated that a case for the violation of the provisions of the State Act as also of the Central Act was registered against the petitioners as also against Ramlal and Ramprasad who submitted an application to the Forest Authorities proposing composition of the offences registered against them and for this purpose submitted the signed Rajinama Forms. Their proposal for composition of the offences was accepted by respondent 1 who in exercise of powers vested in him under Section 19 of the State Act as also under Section 68 of the Central Act passed the impugned order. It is further stated in the return that the value of the Matador has been estimated at Rs. 30,000/- and that the said Matador can be released on payment of the said amount by the petitioners. It is admitted that the amount of penalty imposed by respondent 1 has not been paid by the persons concerned. It is further stated in the return that report of the offence was lodged before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Dhar, on 4-12-1982, a copy of which is filed as Annexure R-I.
3. After the return was filed by the respondents, the petitioners filed a certified copy of the order passed by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Dhar, rejecting the application of the petitioners for interim custody of the (Matador) vehicle on the ground that as the offences have been compounded and no enquiry or trial was pending before the Court, the Magistrate has no jurisdiction to entertain the application of the petitioners.
4. The learned counsel for the petitioners contended that respondent 1 had no jurisdiction to pass the impugned order fAnnexure 'A') because the provisions of Section 19 of the State Act are not applicable as the offences were not compounded by the petitioners. This contention is well founded. In Misc. Petn. No. 222 of 1983 (Dildar Mohammad v. State of M. P. decided on 8-4-1983). Similar question came up for consideration before us. We held that under Section 19 (1) of the State Act the offence can be compounded only by payment of money by the person concerned and accepted by the authorised officer. In the present case, as stated above, it is common ground that no payment was made by the petitioner and others and, therefore, it cannot be said that the offence was compounded by the petitioners. Following the aforesaid decision we held that respondent 1 had no jurisdiction to pass the order (Annexure 'A') in so far as it relates to imposition of penalty on petitioner 2 and to the estimation of the value of the seized vehicle and to the release thereof on payment of the estimated value by the petitioners. The said order (Annexure 'A'), therefore, is quashed in so far as it relates to the above matters.
5. Now as regards the relief of delivery of Matador vehicle to petitioner 1 the learned Deputy Government Advocate appearing for the respondents contended that the petitioners have also committed an offence under the Central Act and that a report to that effect has been made to the Magistrate having jurisdiction in the matter and therefore, the petitioners should apply to the said Magistrate for the interim custody of the Matador. He further contended that the respondents are also intending to file a complaint against the petitioners for commission of offences by them under the State Act, in the circumstances, he submitted that this Court should not direct delivery of the (Matador) vehicle to the petitioners. Now ordinarily we would have accepted the contention of the learned Deputy Government Advocate but in this case, as stated above, the petitioners submitted an application to the Chief Judicial Magistrate. Dhar, for interim custody of the (Matador) vehicle. That application was opposed on behalf of the State and has been dismissed on the ground that as the offences have been compounded and no inquiry or trial was pending before the Court it has no iurisd:ction to entertain the application. Now as we have quashed the order passed by respondent 1 accepting the so called composition the respondents shall be at liberty to move the Magistrate having jurisdiction to proceed further on the report made under Section 54 of the Central Act. The respondents shall also be at liberty to file a complaint against the petitioners if so advised for commission of offences under the State Act. But in our opinion, no useful purpose would be served in allowing the Matador vehicle to remain in the custody of the respondent 1 till the matter is so proceeded with by the respondents. The interest of respondents can well be safeguarded by putting suitable terms for the return of the (Matador) vehicle to petitioner 1. We, therefore, direct the respondents to return the (Matador) Vehicle bearing Registration No. CPF 9973 to petitioner 1 on his furnishing an undertaking before the Additional Registrar of this Court and on his furnishing a Personal Bond in the sum of Rs. 30,000/- before respondent 1 to the effect that the petitioner 1 shall produce the said (Matador) Vehicle before the Magistrate having jurisdiction whenever he is directed to do so by such Magistrate. In our opinion, this would safeguard the interest of the respondents and the vehicle will not also unnecessarily remain idle causing avoidable loss to petitioner 1.
6. As a result of the discussions aforesaid, this petition is allowed. The order (Annexure 'A') passed by respondent l in so far as it relates to composition of the offence composition of penalty and estimation of value of the seized Matador and to the release thereof on payment of such value within 90 days of the order and on failure to do so to the confiscation thereof is quashed. Respondent l is directed to restore the (Matador) Vehicle bearing Registration No. CPF 9973 to petitioner 1 on his furnishing the undertaking and personal bond as directed above. When the requisite undertaking is furnished by petitioner 1 before the Additional Registrar of this Court he shall intimate respondent 1 of the said fact. In the circumstances of the case the parties shall bear their own costs of this petition. The outstanding amount of security deposit shall be refunded to the petitioners after verification.