The State of Madhya Pradesh
Our analysis of the amendments brought by MP Act 25 of 1983 to the Indian Forest Act 1927 leads to the conclusion that specific provisions have been made for the seizure and confiscation of forest and of tools, boats, vehicles and articles used in the commission of offences. Upon a seizure under Section 52(1), the officer affecting the seizure has to either produce the property before the Authorized Officer or to make a report of the seizure under sub-section (2) of Section 52.
Upon being satisfied that a forest offence has been committed, the Authorized Officer is empowered, for reasons to be recorded, to confiscate the forest produce together with the tools, boats, vehicles and articles used in its commission. Before confiscating any property under sub-section (3), the Authorized Officer is required to send an intimation of the initiation of the proceedings for the confiscation of the property to the Magistrate having jurisdiction to try offence. The order of confiscation under Section 52(3) is subject to an appeal under Section 52-A and a revision under Section 52-B. Subsection (5) of Section 52-B imparts finality to the order of the Court of Sessions in revision notwithstanding anything contained to the contrary in the CrPC and provides that it shall not be called into question before any court.
Section 52-C stipulates that on the receipt of an intimation by the Magistrate under sub-section (4) of Section 52, no court, tribunal or authority, other than an Authorized Officer, an Appellate Authority or Court of Sessions (under Sections 52, 52-A and 52-B) shall have jurisdiction to pass orders with regard to the possession, delivery, disposal or distribution of the property in regard to which confiscation proceedings have been initiated. Sub-section (1) of Section 52-C has a non-obstante provision which operates notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in the Indian Forest Act 1927 or in any other law for the time being in force. The only saving is in respect of an officer duly empowered by the State Government for directing the immediate release of a property seized under Section 52, as provided in Section.
Hence, upon the receipt of an intimation by the Magistrate of the initiation of confiscation proceedings under sub-section (4)(a) of Section 52, the bar of jurisdiction under sub-section (1) of Section 52-C is clearly attracted. The scheme contained in the amendments enacted to the Indian Forest Act 1927 in relation to the State of Madhya Pradesh, makes it abundantly clear that the direction which was issued by the High Court in the present case, in a petition under Section 482 of the CrPC, to the Magistrate to direct the interim release of the vehicle, which had been seized, was contrary to law. The jurisdiction under Section 451 of the CrPC was not available to the Magistrate, once the Authorized Officer initiate confiscation proceedings.