Validity of seizure of property after acquittal from criminal prosecution.

M.P. Prohibition of Cow Slaughter Act, 2004

Right to property under article 300-A of the Constitution:

It should be noted that the objective of the 2004 Act is punitive and deterrent in nature. Section 11 of the 2004 Act and Rule 5 of M.P Govansh Vadh Pratishedh Rules, 2012, allows for seizure and confiscation of vehicle, in case of violation of sections 4,5,6, 6A and 6B. The confiscation proceeding, before the District Magistrate, is different from criminal prosecution.
However, both may run simultaneously, to facilitate speedy and effective adjudication with regard to confiscation of the means used for committing the offence.

The District Magistrate has the power to independently adjudicate cases of violations under Sections 4, 5, 6, 6A and 6B of the 2004 Act and pass order of confiscation in case of violation. But in a case where the offender/accused are acquitted in the Criminal Prosecution, the judgment given in the Criminal Trial should be factored in by the District Magistrate while deciding the confiscation proceeding. In the present case, the order of acquittal was passed as evidence was missing to connect the accused with the charges. The confiscation of the appellant’s truck when he is acquitted in the Criminal prosecution, amounts to arbitrary deprivation of his property and violates the right guaranteed to each person under Article 300A.
Therefore, the circumstances here are compelling to conclude that the District Magistrate’s order of Confiscation (ignoring the Trial Court’s judgment of acquittal), is not only arbitrary but also inconsistent with the legal requirements.

[Source: Abdul Vahab vs. State of Madhya Pradesh decided by SC on 4th March 2022]

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