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SC order to cops on liquor, cash haul

New Delhi, Dec. 10 (PTI): The Supreme Court has ruled that huge quantities of valuables, currency notes or liquor that police seize in raids should be disposed of at the earliest.

Police stations, a bench of Justice M.B. Shah and Justice D.M. Dharmadhikari said, were not the right place to store these.

The bench was hearing a case against two policemen who allegedly misappropriated the seized goods deposited at the police station.

On seized liquor, the bench said: “Prompt action should be taken in disposing it of after preparing necessary panchnama.” Samples of the liquor could be obtained after sending it to the chemical analyser.

“But in no case should large quantity of liquor be stored at the police station. No purpose is served...,” the bench said.

It directed the magistrate concerned to follow Section 451 of the Criminal Code for lawful disposal of articles retained by the police for investigation.

On seized vehicles, the court said it was no use holding on to them for long. “It is for the magistrate to pass appropriate orders immediately by taking appropriate bond and guarantee as well as security for return of the said vehicle....”

If the accused owner, insurance company or a third person failed to claim the vehicle, the trial court could order its auction, the bench said.

And if the unclaimed vehicle is insured, the insurance company concerned could take it away.

The trial court, it said, must order the vehicle’s auction within six months of its production before it.

The trial court, however, must first photograph the vehicle and prepare a detailed panchnama.

On seized currency and valuables, the bench said if the articles were not handed over to the person concerned, the trial court could order the items transferred to bank lockers.

“If the articles are required to be kept in police custody, it would be open to the SHO (station house officer) after preparing proper panchnama to keep such articles in a bank locker,” the bench said.

“In any case, such articles should be produced before the magistrate within a week of their seizure.”

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