451.Order for custody and disposal of property pending trial in certain cases.-
When any property is produced before any Criminal Court during any inquiry or trial, the Court may make such order as it thinks fit for the proper custody of such property pending the conclusion of the inquiry or trial, and, if the property is subject to speedy and natural decay, or if it is otherwise expedient so to do, the Court may, after recording such evidence as it thinks necessary, order it to be sold or otherwise disposed of.
Explanation.- For the purposes of this section, “property” includes –
(a) property of any kind or document which is produced before the Court or which is in its custody,
(b) any property regarding which an offence appears to have been committed or which appears to have been used for the commission of any offence.
“the petitioner sought interim custody of the tanker lorry by invoking Section 451 Cr.P.C. By Annexure A-1 order dated 30.8.2003 the Trial Court rejected the said application holding inter alia that the vehicle with the secret chamber which is the main evidence in the case if released to the petitioner was likely to be misused and that the vehicle was liable.”
We are afraid that we cannot agree with the above submissions made by the Director General of Prosecution. A reading of the decision of the Apex Court in Sunderbai Ambalal Desai v. State of Gujarat, (2003) SCC (Crl.) 1943, will indicate that the guidelines therein regarding interim custody of properties produced in Court are applicable to all categories of properties including vehicles. Of course, it is true that those directions and guidelines are for the purpose of giving interim custodyunder Section 451 Cr.P.C. till the conclusion of trial after which the property will have to be brought back to the custody of the Court to be made available for final disposal under Section452 Cr.P.C. Then the further question is whether there is any express or implied bar under the Enforcement Act or the Standards Act or the Rules framed thereunder to exclude the application ofSection 451 Cr.P.C. to properties such as tanker lorries like the one produced in this case. Prima facie, it appears to be a far-fetched argument on behalf of the prosecution.
KERLA HIGH COURT.