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Confiscation Proceedings Independent Of Main Criminal Case

The Supreme Court, in State of Madhya Pradesh vs Kallo Bai, has clarified that confiscatory proceedings are independent of the main criminal proceedings, and it is meant to provide a deterrent mechanism and to stop further misuse of the vehicle.

A bench comprising Justice NV Ramana and Justice Prafulla C Pant was considering an appeal by the state against the high court order which had upheld a session’s court order directing the vehicle to be released on the ground that unless the guilt of the accused is proved, the authority had no right to confiscate the vehicle and forest produce.

The authorsed officer-cum-sub divisional officer had held that the vehicle operator and his companion had deliberately transported teak wood without the requisite permit or any valid document and that the owner was aware of the said illegal transport.

The bench, referring to various other decisions and also on provisions of the Madhya Pradesh Van Upaj (Vyapar Viniyam) Adhiniyam, 1969, observed that criminal prosecution is distinct from confiscation proceedings and parallel, each having a distinct purpose.

“The object of confiscation proceeding is to enable speedy and effective adjudication with regard to confiscation of the produce and the means used for committing the offence while the object of the prosecution is to punish the offender,” the court said.

It said scheme Adhiniyam prescribes an independent procedure for confiscation and the intention of prescribing separate proceedings is to provide a deterrent mechanism and to stop further misuse of the vehicle.

Allowing the appeal by the state, the court held that the high court as well as the revisional court erred in coming to a conclusion that confiscation under the law was not permissible unless the guilt of the accused is completely established.

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