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The Govt application submitted that in order to secure the seized vehicles, violators will have to file applications before the Magistrates. This would lead to an unmanageable number of pleas before the Courts.
The Karnataka High Court yesterday allowed the release of vehicles seized by the police during the COVID-19 lockdown after owners pay a fine and make an application to the jurisdictional police officers for custody of the same.
Owners of seized four wheelers are required to pay a fine of Rs. 1,000, whereas owners of two and three wheelers will have to shell out Rs. 500, instead of approaching the Magistrate.
The violators are also required to execute an undertaking to not commit similar breaches in the future.
Noting that over 35,000 vehicles have been seized within Bangalore city limits during the lockdown, the Division Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Savanur Vishwajit Shetty observed,
"...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. Therefore, in case of such seizure of vehicles for the offences relating to breach of the directions concerning COVID-19, it will be open for the jurisdictional Police Officers to exercise the powers under subsection (3) of Section 102 of Cr.P.C and to give custody of the vehicles in terms of sub-section (3) of Section 102 to the owners."
Karnataka High Court
In this view, the Court ordered that custody of the vehicles can be handed over to the owners provided they execute a bond as per Section 102(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), with an additional undertaking not to commit the same breaches again.
As per Section 102(3), the police can give custody of property/vehicles seized by them to a person on his executing a bond undertaking to produce the property before court as and when required.
The state's application before the Court revealed that the vehicles had been seized for violations under Section 188 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 57 (1) (b) of Disaster Management Act, which were given effect as part of the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown.
It was further submitted that in order to secure the vehicles, the violators will have to file applications before the concerned Magistrates under the relevant provisions of CrPC. This would lead to an unmanageable number of petitions before the Magistrate, which will in turn lead to crowding in courts, the state contended.
Thus, the state proceeded to urge the Karnataka High Court to permit jurisdictional police officers to exercise their powers under relevant sections of the CrPC, and the Motor Vehicles Act, and release vehicles upon furnishing of bond or any other security.
It was additionally contended that this move would speed up the process of release of vehicles and in turn, prevent humongous numbers of applications being filed before the Magistrates.
[Read order here]