Investigator must approach Sessions Court with written complaint, produce seized properties with Court on expiry: Gujarat High Court directs Release of Vehicle

Investigator must approach Sessions Court with written complaint, produce seized properties with Court on expiry: Gujarat High Court directs Release of Vehicle

The Gujarat High Court directed the release of the vehicle and ruled that the investigator must approach Sessions Court with a written complaint, produce seized properties with Court on expiry.

Background 

The petitioner is the owner of the vehicle, the respondent has seized the vehicle stating that the vehicle was doing mining activity without valid royalty pass and till the final order or the concerned authority the vehicle is to be kept safely by respondent. The respondent has issued common notice by stating that the illegal mining of 70 metric ton of ordinary sand was done without legally authorized E-royalty for which the compounding fees of Rs.2 Lakh for Tractor (Loader) = Rs.25,000/- for empty Tractor and Rs.12,250/- for illegal mining of 70 metric ton of ordinary sand was imposed as penalty which comes to a total of Rs.2,37,250/-. 

The petitioner states that thereafter one order was passed by the respondent stating that as per the notice the petitioner has been found guilty of illegal mining of 70 metric tons of ordinary sand and for the same the penalty of Rs.2,37,250/- + Rs.5023/- Environmental Compensation Fund is imposed.

Argument

Advocate Kruti Shah, appearing for the petitioner, contended that as is clear from the show cause notice was issued however, after the issuance of the show cause notice, no steps worth the name have been initiated by the respondent, much less filing the F.I.R. as provided under sub-clause (ii) of sub-clause (b) of sub-Rule (2) of Rule 12 of the Gujarat Mineral (Prevention of Illegal Mining, Transportation and Storage) Rules, 2017.

Decision 

The single judge bench of Justice Vaibhavi D. Nanavati stated that the purpose of seizure and the bank guarantee would stand frustrated; resultantly, the property will have to be released in favour of the person from whom it was seized, without insisting for the bank guarantee.

The court said that in view of the fact that no First Information Report has been registered and the principle laid down by the Court in the aforesaid case applies to the facts of the present case, the present petition deserves to be allowed and is accordingly allowed to the limited extent of directing the respondent to release the vehicle of the petitioner. 

The court ordered that the petitioner shall appear and file necessary reply responding to the show cause notice and it will be open to the respondent authority to consider the reply, adjudicate the show cause notice and pass orders, strictly in accordance with law. 

The court clarified that it has not examined the merits of the issue involved and the observations made are only for the limited purpose of releasing the vehicle. 

Case title: Vajekarnabhai Nanubhai Satya v/s State of Gujarat 

Citation: R/SPECIAL CIVIL APPLICATION NO. 3486 of 2022 

Click here to read the Order/Judgment

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