C P PANDYA Vs. MOTILAL LALLU
HIGH COURT OF GUJARAT
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(1.) On 22nd April 1971 Durgesh Desai Superintendent of Customs (Preventive) Bulsar received information that a vessel named Jai Sagar had left Dubai for the coast of India having been loaded with contraband goods and that the said vessel was likely to reach the coast of Ponsari near Bilimora creek. On receiving this information it is the case of the prosecution that a party of the customs officers went to the creek at about 9-30 p.m. on the very day. They saw the vessel approaching the coast. However on noticing movements of the people on the coast the crew on Board the vessel became suspicious and the vessel therefore receded into the sea and did not land at Ponsari. But ultimately it appears it anchored in the Mendhar creek which is at a distance of 3 to 4 miles from Bilimora. The customs officers returned as they had no vessel on hand which could go into the sea and apprehend Jai Sagar and it was therefore thought fit that the next day arrangement should be made to get a vessel to go in search of the receded vessel. On the next day i.e. on 23rd April 1971 in the meanwhile two of the members of the crew that is accused No. 2 Daji Charmar and accused No. 3 Motilal Lallu who were travelling by a train were apprehended by I.P. Mahida Superintendent of Customs (Preventive) Baroda as he found their movements suspicious and on interrogation these two men disclosed that the vessel Jai Sagar had ultimately landed at Mendbar; that as soon as the vessel landed village people had surrounded the same and looted the goods therein and the members of the crew thereupon fled away including the said accused Nos. 2 and 3. The accused were brought to Bulsar. They were further interrogated and thereafter the area near Mendhar was combed in the evening of 23rd April 1971 and during the course of three days combing operation nylon fabrics cinnamons radio sets of foreign origin etc. were found and seized from the fields in the combed area. The vessel Jai Sagar was also seized from the place where it was anchored. ... ... .. .. . . .. . .. ... ... .. ... ... .. .. . . .. . ... ... .. .. . . .. .
(2.) The nine accused were then put up for trial before the learned Judicial Magistrate First class at Gandevi in criminal case No. 3275 of 1973 and the learned Magistrate passed an order dated 28th January 1976 recording a finding of guilty against accused Nos. 2 3 and 5 for the offence under sec. 135 of the Customs Act and sentencing them to 18 months R. I. and a fine of Rs. 1000.000 in default six months further R. I. so far as accused No. 1 is concerned it may be noted that as he had died during the pendency of the trial the case against the said accused bad abated and accused Nos. 4 and 6 to 9 were found not guilty and acquitted by the learned Magistrate by the said order.
(3.) The matter was carried further up by the convicted accused Nos. 2 3 and 5 in appeal before the learned Sessions Judge Bulsar at Navsari The learned Sessions Judge who heard the said three appeals being appeals Nos. 13 14 and 15 of 1976 came to the conclusion that a great doubt existed about the story narrated by the customs officers and that from the statements of accused Nos. 2 3 and 5 recorded under sec. 108 of the Customs Act at Exs. 29 30 and 33 one would not be surprised if the statements of accused Nos. 2 3 and 5 suffer from the same handicap and the same happened to be recorded so as to suit the case of the customs officers that the said statements were not true voluntary and genuine. In his opinion the statements by themselves and uncorroborated by any other piece of evidence are insufficient to warrant a conviction. He therefore allowed the three appeals of the respective accused set aside the order of conviction and sentence passed against them by the learned Magistrate and acquitted them of the offence under sec. 135 of the Customs Act. It is from this order of the learned Sessions Judge Mated 6th March 1976 that these six appeals arise. ... ... .. .. . . .. . ... ... .. .. . . .. . ... ... .. .. . . .. .;
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