The facts of the case are that police authorities in Rajasthan had seized an unclaimed tractor and a trolley loaded with bajri under the Rajasthan Police Act.
The owner of the vehicle had moved the trial court with an application for its release, but the same was dismissed. He then approached the High Court under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). The High Court allowed the same and issued directions for the release of the vehicle on certain conditions.
In its December 2020 order, the single-judge Bench of Justice Sanjeev Prakash Sharma had ruled that the lower court’s order was wholly misconceived. Referring to Section 38 of the Rajasthan Police Act, which empowers the police to take charge of unclaimed property, the Court had held,
“…it is at the stage when the vehicle(s) is seized, that property may be treated as unclaimed property. However, once an application has been filed before the Court informing about the vehicle being an unregistered ownership of the claimant and he claims the said property, the provisions of Section 38 of the Act would automatically cease to apply and the learned Magistrate could not have avoided the provisions of Section 457 Cr.P.C. for release of the vehicle(s)…”
This prompted the State to approach the Supreme Court.