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Hemant Kumar Gupta & Others v/s State of Jharkhand & Another


    W.P. (Cr) No. 168 of 2021 & Cr.M.P. No. of 1824 of 2021

    Decided On, 16 September 2021

    At, High Court of Jharkhand

    By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE SANJAY KUMAR DWIVEDI

    For the Petitioner: Sidhartha Roy, Advocate. For the Respondents: Amitesh Kumar Geasan, Priya Shrestha, Advocates.



Judgment Text

1. Heard Mr. Sidhartha Roy, the learned counsel appearing for the petitioner, Mr. Amitesh Kumar Geasan and Mrs. Priya Shrestha, the learned counsels appearingon behalf of the State in respective cases.

2. These petitions havebeen heard through Video Conferencing in view of the guidelines of the High Court taking into account the situation arising due to COVID-19 pandemic. None of the parties have complained about any technical snag of audio-video and with their consent this matter has been heard.

3. Heard Mr. Siddharth Roy, the learned counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioner in W.P.(Cr.) No.168 of 2021 and he has also appeared on behalf of the sole Opposite Party in Cr.M.P.No.1824/2021. Mr. Amitesh Kumar Geasan, the learned counsel has argued in W.P.(Cr.) No.168/2021 on behalf of the State. Mrs. Priya Shrestha, the learned counsel has argued in Cr.M.P.No.1824/2021 in both the petitions on common question of fact, law and judgment are the subject matter and that is why both these petitions have been heard together with the consent of the parties.

W.P.(Cr) No.168 of 2021

4. This petition has been filed for direction upon the respondent no.2 to forthwith release the vehicle of the petitioner bearing registration no.WB 37C 9865. Further prayer is made for direction upon the respondent no.2 to comply the order dated 25.03.2021 passed by learned ACJM, Ranchi in Complaint Case No.5507/2020 by which thevehicle of the petitioner was ordered to be released after indemnity bond of Rs.15 lakhs, with two sureties of like amount each,was furnished on behalf of the petitioner, which has already been furnished on behalf of the petitioner. Now pending in the court of learned ACJM, Ranchi.

5. Mr. Siddharth Roy, the learned counsel for the petitioner submits that Deputy Transport Commissioner cum Secretary, South Chhotanagpur Regional Transport Authority, Ranchi has passed the order dated 01.10.2020assessing the tax liability upon the petitioner to the tune of Rs.11,28,470/-. He further submits that it has been ordered that if that amount is not paid, prosecution will be launched against the petitioner under sections 21(a) and 22(3) of Jharkhand Motor Vehicles Taxation Act, 2001. Pursuant thereto, the prosecution against the petitioner was initiated by Annexure-A to the counter affidavit.

Thereafter, the petitioner filed a petition for release of the vehicle before the Court of ACJM, Ranchi and the learned court has passed the order dated 17.12.2020 which was numbered as Misc. Criminal ApplicationNo.5859/2020 corresponding toComplaint Case No.5507/2020 which was heard on 17.12.2020 and posted for that day whereby learned court directed to release the vehicle of the petitioner on the condition that thentire taxation amount shall be deposited by the petitioner in four equal EMI and furnishing of two sureties of Rs.15 lakhs each. It was further directed that after getting it released the petitioner shall removeall such invalid alteration. Aggrieved with this order, the petitioner has preferred Criminal Revision No.14/2021 before the learned AJC-XVI, Ranchi which was decided on 19.03.2021 and the learned AJC has modified the order so far as paying of the taxation is concerned and to that extent, as indicated in the paragraph no.6 of the judgment in revisional court and with that modification the revisional application was allowed and it was communicated to the court of ACJM, Ranchi. After that order, the learned ACJM,Ranchi by order dated 25.03.2021 directed to Secretary, South Chhotanagpur Regional Transport Authority, Ranchi to release the vehicle of the petitioner.

6. Mr. Roy, the learned counsel appearing for the petitioner submits that inspite of thisdevelopment, the vehicle in question of the petitioner has not been released by the respondent no.2 and that is why the petitioner has been compelled to file writ. He submits that the commercial vehicle of the petitioner has been seized on 29.09.2020 andalmost an year is going to be completed and the vehicle is lying in open and no purpose will be served to allow the vehicle to be damaged as has been held by this Court as well as the Hon'ble Supreme Court in several judgments. He further submits that in the courter affidavit filed by the State, at page 35, the Joint Transport Commissioner, Jharkhand has issued the letter wherein it is stated that the tax of the vehicle has been paid from 16.11.2016 to15.11.2021. He submits that it is an admitted position that those document has been brought on record in the counter affidavit filed on behalf of the respondent State. He submits that Annexure-B at page 34 is the notification dated 28.05.2020 by which three officers have been authorized to compound the cases under section 200 of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988. He further submits that section 3 of Jharkhand Motor Vehicle Taxation Act speaks about notification for appointment of a person as Taxing Officer. He submits that Annexure-B in the counter affidavit is not a notification of appointment of any Taxing Officer rather that notification is under section 200 of Motor Vehicle Act, 1988. He further submits that demand notice contained in Annexure-5 has been issued on the back of the petitioner as no opportunity of hearing was provided to the petitioner and the assessment was done by the respondent no.2 which is not taxing authority.

7. Mr. Amitesh Kumar Geasan, the learned counsel appearing on behalf of the respondent State submits that notification dated 28.05.2020 is already there as contained in Annexure-B by which three persons have been authorized to assess the tax under Motor Vehicle Act, 1988.

Cr.M.P. No.1824 of 2021

8. This petition has been filed by the State praying therein to quash the order dated 19.03.2021 Annexure-5 passed in Criminal Revision No.14/2021 and consequential order dated 25.03.2021 passed by the learned ACJM, Ranchi.

9. Mrs. Priya Shrestha, the learned counsel appearing on behalf of the State in this case contended that by notification dated 28.05.2020 three officers have been assigned to made assessment of taxation of the vehicle and the revisional court has erred in modifying that order. She further submits that section 3 of the Jharkhand Motor Vehicle Taxation Act, 2001, also crystal clear by which power of State Government rests for appointment of any officer to assess tax.

10. Mr. Roy, the learned counsel appearing for sole opposite party in this case has repeated his argument as he has argued in W.P.(Cr.) No.168/2021.

11. In the light of above submissions of learned counsels appearing on behalf of the parties, the Court has perused Annexure-5 which is the order as taxation order dated 01.10.2020 by which the petitioner has been slapt with an additional amount of Rs.11,28,470/-. On perusal of this order, it transpires that no notice of hearing has been issued to the petitioner and the petitioner was not heard before passing of such order and there is violation of principle of natural justice. Pursuant to non-payment of the amount as assessed by order dated 01.10.2020, the prosecutioncasehas been lodged against the petitioner on 14.10.2020 and the occurrence is said to be of 29.09.2020 and it was registered at 8.52 p.m. The petitioner filed a petition for release of the vehicle. The vehicle in question was directed to be released with certain conditions as has been indicated above. The petitioner moved before revisional court and the revisional court has modified the taxation part of the order passed by the learned ACJM, Ranchi. He remitted the matter to the learned ACJM, Ranchi for the needful. Pursuant thereto, learned ACJM, Ranchi passed the order dated25.03.2021 directing the respondent no.2 to release the vehicle. It is admitted position that counter affidavit has been filed on behalf of the respondent State in which letter dated 08.02.2021 of Joint Transport Commissioner has been annexed which suggest that tax of the vehicle was paid with effect from 16.11.2016 to 15.11.2021 and the notification dated 28.05.2020 suggest that it has been issued under section 200 of Motor Vehicle Act, 1988. On perusal of section 200 of the said Act, it is crystal clear that it is for composition of certain offences. Section 3 of Jharkhand Motor Vehicle Taxation Act, 2001 speaks about appointment of Taxing Officer. No document has been brought on record by the respondent State that who are the persons who have been appointed pursuant to that section of Jharkhand Motor Vehicle Taxation Act to assess the tax. On perusal ofnotification dated 28.05.2020no prudent person can come to the conclusion that by this notification the appointment of Taxing Officer shall be made. This notification has been issued on the strength of section 200 of Motor Vehicle Act, 1988. In the light of “General Insurance Council and Others v. State of A.P. And Others” reported in (2010) 6 SCC 768, the Hon'ble Supreme Court has held that it is of no use to keep the seized vehicles at the police stations for a long period. It is for the Magistrate to pass appropriate order immediately by taking appropriate bond and guaranty as well as security for return of the said vehicles, if required at any point of time. This can be done pending hearing of applications for return of such vehicles. If the petitioner has not been heard at Annexure-5 it is open to the petitioner to challenge it before appropriate forum. There is already order of release in favour of the petitioner, keeping their vehicle in open will serve no purpose. The vehicle in question is commercial and it is of no use of keeping such vehicle at police station for a long period. This aspect of the matter has been considered by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of “Sunderbhai Ambalal Desai v. State of Gujarat” reported in (2002) 10 SCC 283. Paragraph nos.5 and 17 of the said judgment are quoted herein below:

"5. Section 451 clearly empowers the court to pass appropriate orders with regard to such property, such as:

(1) for the proper custody pending conclusion of the inquiry or trial;

(2) to order it to be said or otherwise disposed of, after recording such

(3) If the property is subject to speedy and natural decay, the dispose of the same

xxx xxx xxx

"17. In our view, whatever be the situation, it is of no use to keepsuch seized vehicles at the police stations for a long period. It is for the Magistrate to pass appropriate orders immediately by taking appropriate bond and guarantee as well as security for return of the said vehicles, if required at any point of time. This can be done pending hearing of applications for return of such vehicles."

12. As a cumulative effect of the above discussion,the Secretary, Regional Transport O

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ffice, Ranchi is directed to release the vehicleas there is direction by the learned ACJM, Ranchi, passed in Complaint Case No.5507/2020, forthwith. The vehicle in question shall be released in favour of the petitioner on his undertaking on the following terms and conditions:- (i) As it has been stated that indemnity bond of Rs.15 lakhs, with two sureties of like amount each, has already been deposited by the petitioner in terms of order dated 25.03.2021, the court below shall consider it and will pass the order on the point of indemnity bond which has been recorded in that order. (ii) One of the surety must be a resident and owner of a commercial vehicle of District Ranchi(Jharkhand). (iii) That the petitioner shall not sale, mortgage or transfer the ownership of the vehicle on hire purchase agreement or mortgage or in any manner. (iv) He shall not change or tamper with the identification of the vehicle in any manner. (v) He shall produce the vehicle as and when directed by the Trial Court. 13. With the above observation and direction, W.P.(Cr) No.168/2021 stands allowed and disposed of, and Cr.M.P. No.1824/2021 stands dismissed.
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