Decided on October 01,2012

State of Uttarakhand and others Respondents


- (1.) By means of this petition, the challenge is to the judgment and order dated 25.08.2012 passed by Chief Judicial Magistrate, Champawat and that of dated 03.09.2012 rendered by District and Sessions Judge, Champawat whereby both the courts below have refused to release the vehicle of accused Bhagirath Rai.
(2.) A Bolero Jeep No. UK 05 A 3999 registered in the name of Bhagirath Rai was seized on dated 04.04.2012 by Senior Sub Inspector of police, Kotwali Champawat while both the accused persons namely Bhagirath Rai and Mahesh Rai were found carrying two hunted GHURADS (a wild animal) in the Forest Division of Champawat. A licensed gun and a big knife were also recovered from their possession and these GHURADS, mentioned in Schedule 3 of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 (for brevity hereinafter called as 'Act'), were ostensibly hunted just a few minutes ago when the police apprehended them. Both Gurads had bullet injuries and blood was profusely oozing out from their body. Accused persons were taken to the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate from where they were released on bail and their Jeep was handed over by the police to Forest Department of Champawat on 17.04.2012, as is evident from both the impugned orders as well as from the orders of District Forest Officer dated 29.06.2012 and 11.07.2012 (Annexure Nos. 5 and 7 to the petition respectively). Both the accused persons moved an application on dated 19.05.2012, voluntarily confessing their guilt and on the basis of their confession, they prayed for composition of the offence, as envisaged under Section 54 of the Act. In this regard, the Forest Officer sought an opinion from District Government Counsel (Criminal), who advised that composition can be done on the basis of confession of guilt on dated 28.05.2012 and accordingly, the offence was compounded and a sum of Rs. 1,50,000/- was charged in lieu of composition of the offence by District Forest Officer. Soon after the composition, another application was moved by the applicant to release the aforementioned vehicle in his favour, as he was the registered owner of the same but the Forest Officer denied the same, on account of lack of jurisdiction and he was of the view that vehicle can be released only by a competent court, so he rejected said application. Thereafter, applicant moved an application in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate relying upon various precedents of Hon'ble Apex Court including the latest one namely Principal Chief Conservator of Forest Vs. J. K. Johnson, 2012 AIR(SC) 61 but the learned Magistrate was of the view that since the offence has been confessed by both the accused persons, so in view of Section 39 (1) (d) of the Act, the property deemed to be of State Government.
(3.) Feeling disgruntled, a revision no. 9 of 2012 was filed by accused Bhagirath Rai and learned Sessions Judge was also in concurrence with the view expressed by learned Magistrate, so he also dismissed the revision, consequently, Bhagirath Rai, owner of the vehicle, has come up before this Court by way of filing this petition.;

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