The Supreme Court has stayed the operation of a Delhi High Court judgment allowing vehicles transporting illicit liquor seized under the Delhi Excise Act, 2009, to be released by the trial courts.

A Bench of Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi granted the stay on an appeal from the Delhi Government challenging the judgment which held that trial courts could exercise the power under Section 451 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and release the vehicles involved in transportation of illicit liquor.

The matter relates to confiscation of a Cruiser Force vehicle on April 17, 2011, by Delhi Police, in which 47 boxes of illicit liquor were recovered and a case was registered under the Delhi Excise Act. Accused Narender moved an application before the trial court and sought release of the vehicle on supardari.

The trial court dismissed the application and held that it had no jurisdiction to release the vehicles confiscated under the Excise Act. The accused challenged the order before the Delhi High Court, which directed release of the vehicle. The present appeal is directed at that order.

Additional Solicitor General Mohan Jain appearing for the Delhi Government argued that the High Court judgment was against the provisions of Delhi Excise Act which prescribes that no court shall have jurisdiction to make any order with regard to release of vehicles seized for committing an offence under the State Excise Act.

He argued that the basic purpose of confiscating such vehicles was that the accused should not use the same vehicle for such offences again. It was also brought to the notice of the Court that trial courts were releasing the vehicles confiscated under the Excise Act by following the impugned judgment and thereby defeating the basic purpose of Excise Act.

The Bench accepted the ASG’s submissions, issued notice and stayed the operation of the judgment.

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