MOGILI SUBBARAYUDU Vs. STATE OF ANDHRA PRADESH
HIGH COURT OF ANDHRA PRADESH
STATE OF ANDHRA PRADESH
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(1.) This writ petition is filed to issue a Writ of Mandamus declaring the action of the 4th respondent in seizing 145 bags of rice weighing 45 kgs each and goods carriage vehicle-LMV bearing No.AP27 UA 0161 belonging to the 1st petitioner and Eicher Mini Lorry bearing No.AP 27 TZ 1485 belonging to the 2nd petitioner under the Mahazarnama dtd. 9/7/2021, as illegal, arbitrary, without any authority of law and contrary to the provisions of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 (for short 'the Act ') and the Andhra Pradesh State Targeted Public Distribution System (Control) Order, 2018 (for short 'the Control Order, 2018 ') besides violative of the provisions of Article 14, 19(1)(g) and 21 of the Constitution of India and consequently to set aside the same with a direction to the respondents not to take any action in pursuance of the illegal seizure.
(2.) The 1st petitioner claims to be the owner of 145 bags of rice weighing 45 kgs each and goods carriage vehicle-LMV bearing No.AP27 UA 0161 and 2nd petitioner is the owner of Eicher Mini Lorry bearing No.AP 27 TZ 1485 and they are eking out their livelihood by running the same. The 4th respondent, on mere suspicion that the vehicle was transporting the PDS rice, seized the vehicles along with the rice under Mahazarnama dtd. 13/01/2021 and registered a crime as Crime No.6 of 2021 on the file of Dornal P.S. for the offences under Sec. 7 of the Act.
(3.) Sri I. Venkata Prasad, learned counsel for the petitioner, vehemently submits that the seizure of the vehicle by the 4th respondent - Head Constable, Dornal Police Station is not authorized and not competent to seize the vehicle and the rice for the alleged offence. Even if the alleged offence is true, the police officer not below the rank of Sub-Inspector of Police is competent to seize and register the case for the alleged offence. The 4th respondent - Head Constable is not competent to seize the rice or vehicle under Clause 20 of the Control Order, 2018. In support of his contention, he placed reliance on Clause 20(a) of the Control Order, 2018, which reads as under:
"Any officer or person authorized by the State Government or by the District Collector or by Collector (Civil Supplies) the appointing authority or any officer of the Civil Supplies/other State Government departments not below the rank of Revenue Inspector/Checking Inspector/Enquiry Inspector (Civil Supplies), or any Gazetted Officer of Vigilance and Enforcement Department of the State or any officer authorized in this behalf by the State Government not below the rank of a Sub-Inspector of Police, may enter the premises of the fair price shop or any private premises where the scheduled commodities pertaining to Targeted Public Distribution system or other Government schemes are kept/positioned or found in transit and conduct inspection and seize any stocks of scheduled commodities, supply documents or books, accounts or other related document for the purpose of such inspection/seizure for contravention of the provisions of this Order, Officers of Legal Metrology Department, Team of Social Audit appointed by Commissioner of Civil Supplies are also empowered to inspect the fair price shop premises, in regard to weights and measures. "
He also placed reliance on the reported decision in Sri Vigneswara Traders, Komerapudi Village, Sattenapalli Mandal, Guntur District, Rep. by its Proprietor-K.Gangadhara Reddy and another Vs. Circle Inspector of Police, Porumamilla Police Station, Kadapa District and two others1. He further submits that this Court following the said decision (1 supra) in W.P.No.9969 of 2021 dtd. 18/11/2021, set aside the police proceedings by declaring the seizure of stock and vehicle as illegal, arbitrary and without authority of law. ;
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