The Karnataka High Court on Thursday permitted the city police to release around 35,000 motor vehicles those were seized for violation of lockdown norms in Bengaluru city, after collecting a tentative fine amount.
A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice S. Vishwajith Shetty passed the interim order after an application was filed by the State government.
The Application stated that from 25th March 2020 till date, approximately 35,000 vehicles have been seized within the limits of Bengaluru City for violation of Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code and of Section 51 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
It was pointed out that order to secure release of the seized vehicles, the owners will have to file applications before the jurisdictional Magistrates under the relevant provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure and since 35,000 vehicles have been seized, the Courts of the jurisdictional Magistrates will be flooded with such applications which will lead to crowding of Courts.
The State Government was therefore seeking a direction permitting the jurisdictional Police Officers to exercise the power under sub-section (3) of Section 102 of Cr.P.C and handover the custody of the seized vehicles.
The Court found merit in the submission of Counsel that it will be very difficult to transport the said vehicles to the jurisdictional Courts and the police will find it difficult to secure a proper place for parking of the said vehicles.
This relief is however temporary in nature since the cases registered against owners, will continue. The Court has clarified that the release of vehicles is subject to final outcome of the prosecution launched against the vehicle owners under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code and the Disaster Management Act before the jurisdictional magistrate. The state has to file similar application for permission to release vehicles in other cities.
The Bench stated that the seized vehicles should be released subject to tentative fine of ₹1,000 for four-wheelers is ₹1,000 and ₹500 for three- and two-wheelers .
The Court also clarified that order of release will apply only to seizure of the vehicles within the limits of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and even in future, if vehicles are seized within the limits of BBMP by the jurisdictional Police Officers for the similar breaches, the custody of the vehicles can be given to owners on the same terms and conditions.
-India Legal Bureau