The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday allowed the State Police to release over 1.5 lakh vehicles that were seized for violation of lockdown norms. The owners of the vehicles can now make an application to the jurisdictional Police Officers and to and seek the return of the vehicle on a deposit amount, instead of approaching the magistrate.
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Suraj Govindraj passed the following order on the application made by the state government.
The State Government referred to the Karnataka High Court's own order dated April 30, 2020, allowing the Bengaluru police to release 35,000 vehicles that were seized for violation of lockdown norms.
At the outset, the Court took into account the fact that 1,37,503 two-wheelers, 7,432 four-wheelers, and 7,123 other vehicles have been seized in the entire State and that it would be difficult for the police to find out a proper place for parking of so many vehicles.
"Moreover, the Courts of jurisdictional Magistrates will be overburdened if the owners of the vehicles apply separately for return of vehicles," added the Court.
Thus, the Court issued the following directions:
- After verification of the ownership of the applicants, it will be open for the jurisdictional Police Officers to give custody of the seized vehicles to the owners by exercising the powers under sub-section (3) of Section 102 of Cr.P.C.
- The jurisdictional Police Officers can exercise such power provided the owner of goods vehicle (other than three and four-wheeler goods vehicles) is willing to deposit a sum of Rs.2,000/- with the police, the owner of a four-wheeler is willing to deposit a sum of Rs.1,000/- with the police and the owner of the three-wheeler or two-wheeler is willing to deposit a sum of Rs.500/- with the police.
- These amounts will be treated as deposits and the same can be appropriated towards payment of fine, if ultimately fine is imposed on the owners.
- The custody of the vehicle can be handed over to the owners provided the owners execute a bond undertaking in terms of sub-section (3) of Section 102 of Cr.P.C with an additional undertaking not to commit the same breaches again.
Lastly, the Court also made it clear that even in the future, if vehicles are seized by the Police Officers for similar breaches as set out in the order dated 30th April 2020, the custody of the vehicles can be handed over to the owners on the same terms and conditions.