1. Match boxes numbering 1248 bundles were seized as early as 22-10-1971. The prosecution launched against the petitioner by the Central Excise authorities ended in acquittal. The match boxes seized are with the Central Excise authorities. This is a petition filed for the purpose of setting return of those match bundles worth about Hs. 50,000/-.
2. Mr, Sekkizhar, the learned counsel appearing for the petitioner submits that the match boxes were seized as early as 22-10-71 and no adjudication was made so far by the Central Excise and as such, any further initiation of adjudication will be barred under Section 42 of the Central Excises and Salt Act, 1944. In a judgment of this court reported in V. Govindaswami v. Collector Central Excise. Madras (Mad) Somasundaram, J., while dealing with a matter arising out of the Customs Act held that when a Collector of Customs seizes and retains any goods he does so in exercise of a statutory authority conferred upon him by the Customs Act and the adjudication proceedings pending before him not being criminal in nature, Section 561-A, Cr. P. C, cannot be invoked.
3. The present case on hand is analogous to the one decided by Somasundaram, J., It is always open to the petitioner to invoke the jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution in order to see that the adjudication proceedings are dropped or expeditiously disposed of by 'the Central Excise Department. It is also open to the petitioner to file appropriate petition before the authorities of the Central Excise .Department to get back the match boxes. I do not think that it is correct on the part of this court to order the return of these match boxes under the powers vested by Section 561-A, Cr.P.C. In these circumstances, this petition is dismissed with a direction to the petitioner to take out appropriate proceedings on advise as mentioned above.
4. In view of the fact that the articles were seized as early as 28-10-71 and the value of the same is over Rupees 50,000/- it is but fair that the Excise authorities take prompt action either to return the goods or to adjudicate upon them immediately. It is better that necessary safeguards may be taken and if law and facts permit necessary money may be collected from the petitioner and the properties are released to the petitioner in order to see that the match (boxes are not wasted or sipoiled by efflux of time.