Chapter 34 of the code of criminal procedure deals with the disposal of property under criminal law. Ordinarily, disposal of property can be done through sale, transfer or relinquished. But under criminal law, the property in question is not an ordinary property or article rather it is a property against which an offense has been committed or which has been used for the commission of an offense and the procedure followed for the disposal is also different. The procedure and remedies are well mentioned from section 452 to section 459 of the code. Let’s see in detail what the sections provide for in the light of the various case.
ORDER FOR CUSTODY AND DISPOSAL OF THE DISPOSAL OF PROPERTY PENDING TRAIL IN CERTAIN CASES – SECTION 451
According to section 451 whenever any property is brought before the court of law during any inquiry or trail the court may order such property to be kept proper custody until the inquiry or trial is complete.
ABDUL JABAR V. KHALEED AHMAD, 1988 CrLJ 810 (Kant)
The petitioner a registered owner of a vehicle is the proper person to whom custody of the vehicle is to be entrusted and the complainant who claims to have purchased the vehicle.
GADADHAR V. SHRINIVAS MISHRA, 1990 CrLJ 1190 (Ori)
A registered owner is entitled to the interim custody of the vehicle. The Pawnee had no right to claim interim custody, as the dispute was with regard to the transfer of the vehicle and not with respect to the custody. Hence the Pawnee had no right to claim the custody so long as the charge of theft filed against him was not cleared.
ORDER FOR DISPOSAL OF PROPERTY AT CONCLUSION OF TRAIL – SECTION 452
According to this section, an order for the disposal of property at the conclusion of the trial is to be made.
- Subsection 1 of the said section says that when any inquiry or trial is concluded the court may make any order as it may deem fit for the disposition of property by destruction, confiscation, or delivery to any person claiming to be entitled to the property in question or otherwise any property or document before or in the custody of the court regarding which any offense has been committed or which has been used for the commission of an offense.
- Subsection 2 of the section provides that where such property is handed over to any person through the order made under subsection 1 of the section the claimant is supposed to return the property if the order is modified or set aside
- Subsection 3 of the section lays that a court instead of making an order under subsection 1 can direct the property to be delivered to the Chief Judicial Magistrate who shall deal with it in a manner as may be prescribed in section 457, 458, 459.
- Subsection 4 says that where the property is a livestock or is subjected to speedy or natural decay the order made under subsection 1 shall not be carried for 2 months or where an appeal has been presented till the appeal is disposed of.
- Subsection 5 provides that the property here means any property regarding which an offense has been committed or which has been used for the commission of any offense or any property which has been exchanged for such property.
- Also, under section 451 and section 452, the title of the property seized is not to be divided by court. If a person is the lawful owner of the property seized from him he has to initiate separate proceedings under section 452 of the act. He has to produce authentic documents to show that he is the lawful owner of the property seized. The trial has to be completely independent of the previous judgment where the claimant was an accused.
ANDURI PODHAN V. STATE OF ORISSA, 1987 CrLJ 1478 (Ori)
An order under Section 452 for the return of the articles by the trial court should record the specific findings with reasons. When conflicting claims to articles are raised in a sessions case, the Sessions Judge can direct delivery of the property to the magistrate under Section 452(3) for disposal.
PAYMENT TO INNOCENT PURCHASER OF MONEY FOUND ON ACCUSED – SECTION 453
Sometimes it so happens any person purchases a property bonafide without knowing that the property is stolen. The police recover the same property from the possession of the purchaser. What is the remedy available to the purchaser? Section 453 comes into play here. If any amount is recovered from the person who is convicted for theft, out of the money which is recovered from the possession of the convicted person an about not exceeding the price paid by such purchaser be delivered to him.
There is always a provision of appeal available always when these sections are applied.
APPEAL AGAINST ORDER MADE UNDER 452 AND 453 – SECTION 454
Any person aggrieved by the order made under section 452 and 453 can appeal against it in the court to which the appeal ordinarily lies.
Subsection 2 says that upon such appeal the appellate court shall either stay or annul the order made and further make such orders that may be just.
DESTRUCTION OF LIBELLOUS AND OTHER MATTERS – SECTION 455
The section lays down that the court may order that all those things in respect of which conviction was done to be destroyed whether they are in the custody of the court or the person convicted.
POWER TO RESTORE THE POSSESSION OF IMMOVABLE PROPERTY – SECTION 456
If the court thinks that the property of the convicted person is taken by force or intimidation the court shall order the property to be restored. The proviso to the said section says that no such order shall be made after a period of one month from the date of conviction.
Subsection 2 says that where the order has not been made under subsection 1 the court may make such order upon appeal, reference, revision as the case may be.
- Subsection 3 lays down that, the provisions of section 454 shall also apply to this section as well.
- Subsection 4 mentions that the order made under this section shall prejudice none in respect of the immovable property which is the subject matter here and which may be established in any civil suit.
GANGA V. STATE OF RAJASTHAN, 1993 CrLJ 216 (Raj)
It has been held that where the accused had been wrongfully dispossessed an order of restoration survives even after his death and abatement of appeal, and whosoever be in possession of that property including his legal representatives are bound to restore it.
PROCEDURE BY POLICE UPON SEIZURE OF PROPERTY – SECTION 457
Where a police officer has seized any property and such property is not produced before the during trial or inquiry, the magistrate may make such an order as he may deem fit for the disposal of property or delivery of such property to the person entitled if such person is not ascertained then the court shall order custody and production of such property.
Subsection 2 provides that if a person is known then the magistrate will order the delivery of such property to the owner or the claimant or the person entitled to receive such property. And if the person is not known then the court may issue a proclamation specifying the article and the person entitled to receive such property shall claim it within 6 months from the date, the proclamation is issued.
PROCEDURE WHEN NO CLAIMANT APPEARS WITHIN 6 MONTHS – SECTION 458
If no claimant appears within a period of 6 months and even if the claimant appears but he is not able to prove that he has legally acquired the said property the magistrate by order shall direct that such property shall be at the disposal of the state government.
Subsection 2 According to subsection 2 an appeal shall lie against any such order to the court to which appeals ordinarily lie from convictions by the magistrate.
POWER TO SELL PERISHABLE PROPERTY – SECTION 459
The section says that where the nature of the property is perishable and is subjected to speedy and natural decay and where the owner of the property is not known then the magistrate may order such property to be sold. Or where the magistrate finds it to be beneficial for the owner of the property that the property should be sold and where the value of such property is less than ( five hundred rupees) the magistrate shall order it anytime to be sold.
The property used for any offence or pertaining to which an offence has been committed is the subject matter of disposal under the criminal law. Various penal provisions of Code of Criminal Procedure apply to such property. The property unless it is absolutely necessary cannot be retained in the custody of police as well as the court, the property is to be disposed of immediately after it is no longer needed. Therefore it is the duty of the court to pass appropriate orders in accordance with the law for the disposal of such property.
By- Symeen Makhdoomi
School of law, University of Kashmir
- The Code Of Criminal Procedure By Ratanlal And Dhirajlal
- SCC Online
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