Team  SoOLEGAL

Sec. 452 CrPC Doesn't Mandate That Custody Should Be Handed Over To The Person From Whose Possession It Was Seized, Overriding The Claim Of Genuine Title Asserted By Third Party

Team SoOLEGAL 7 Jan 2019 3:40pm

Sec. 452 CrPC Doesn't Mandate That Custody Should Be Handed Over To The Person From Whose Possession It Was Seized, Overriding The Claim Of Genuine Title Asserted By Third Party

Where an assertion is made before the court that the property does not belong to the person from whom it was seized, Section 452 of the CrPC does not orders that its custody should be handed over to the person from whose possession it was seized, overriding the claim of genuine title which is asserted on behalf of a third party. Held by the Apex Court

The judgement was given in the case where the 4 people were charged for theft of 10,285 kg of copper wires and 62 lead sleeves from a BSNL godown. The accused had told that he had sold the stolen items to Surya Metals. The interim custody of the accused was handed over by magistrate to BSNL under the provisions of Section 451 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

 In 1999 when the accused was released, the proprietor of Surya Metals filed an application under Section 452 of the CrPC seeking release of the alloy moulds. The magistrate declined to grant custody of the seized material and relegated him to prove its title before a competent civil court.

By taking the reference of decision of Supreme Court in N. Madhavan vs. State of Kerala, the HC reversed the statement of the Session Court and held that though interim custody was handed over to the BSNL, it did not declare any right over the property, nor did it deny the right or title of the proprietor and thus there was no reason to relegate him to a civil court. BSNL had moved to SC against this order.

The two judges bench comprising of Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice MR Shah observed that in Madhavan case, there was no dispute that the weapon of offence belonged to the accused from whom it had been seized.

 "Normally the Court would, following the discharge or acquittal of the accused, reinstate the property to the person from whose custody it was taken. A departure from this rule of practice is not lightly made when there is no dispute or doubt that the property which was seized from the custody of the accused belongs to him. These remarks in the decision of this Court in Madhavan clearly specifies that under Section 452 generally the person from whom the property was seized would be entitled to get an order when there is no dispute/doubt that the property belongs to him. Possible when the property belongs to the person from whom it was seized that such an order can be passed", explained by the bench.

Further observed that it was but appropriate and proper that such a claim be unquiet before the competent civil court. In the absence of such an adjudication, the custody of the goods, which have been seized, should continue to be with the appellant.

 The appellant specified through its evidence that the goods were stolen from its godown and were of nature which were not capable of being acquired from the open market. Taking into account that these goods were lying in the BSNL godown for 26 years, the court directed the BSNL to preserve a sample of them and granted approval to sell the goods by auction and to maintain an account of the money which has been realised from the sale. The amount which is realised by the appellant shall abide by such directions as may be passed by the competent civil court in the suit which may be instituted by the first respondent


 

Tagged: Supreme Court   Justice DY Chandrachud   Justice MR Shah   Criminal Code of procedure 1973   N. Madhavan vs. State of Kerala   High Court   BSNL     
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