HC directs disposal of vehicles in police custody

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Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Tuesday directed police to “strictly” comply with the Supreme Court directions on disposal of all the vehicles in its custody in the State.    

“In view of the submissions made and in the facts of the case, the petition is disposed of with the direction to the respondents to comply with the directions issued by the Supreme Court in paragraph 18 of the decision rendered in the case of Sundarbhai Ambalal Desai strictly,” said a division bench of Justices Alok Aradhe and B.S. Walia while disposing of a Public Interest Litigation filed by one Achyut Dubey. 

Among others, the petitioner had sought directions to state to ensure that applications for disposal of all the vehicles in the custody of police in connection with any offence for more than a week are made by concerned station house officers or investigating officers before the appropriate Court.

In Sundarbhai Ambalal Desai v. State of Gujarat (AIR 2003 SC 638), the Apex Court held that the concerned station house officers or investigating officers must expeditiously move an application for the disposal of unclaimed vehicles and either their owner or the insurance company may claim these vehicles. 

In case neither of these two claims, the vehicles can be publically auctioned by the concerned Court, Dubey said. However, he said, directions are not being complied with by the State of Jammu and Kashmir.  

The apex court had delineated that the powers under Section 451 Cr.P.C should be exercised expeditiously and judiciously and it would serve various purposes, namely— Owner of the article would not suffer because of its remaining unused or by its misappropriation; Court or the police would not be required to keep the article in safe custody; If the proper ‘panchanama’ before handing over possession of article is prepared, that can be used in evidence instead of its production before the court during the trial and the jurisdiction of the court to record evidence should be exercised promptly so that there may not be further chance of tampering with the articles. 

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