Disposal of Property
(CRPC Section- 451 to 459)
Author: Ayush Jain, Unitedworld School of Law, Gandhinagar, Gujarat
When a property is taken under custody by the court by virtue of being the property is involved in an offence or may be used for committing an offence. This type of property on which inquiry has been initiated or may be produced as a piece of evidence before the hon’ble court; once produced, the court can issue an order for the disposal of the property. The disposal of property or documents by the court during an inquiry or a trial is a crucial issue in some cases.
The legal provision provided by the law is prescribed under Sections 451 to 459 of Chapter 34, The Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), 1973.
Now let’s see what disposal of property means under criminal law.
WHAT IS DISPOSAL OF PROPERTY?
Disposal may be defined as the process used by the courts for decommission and dispose of assets due to aging or some changes in performance and the capacity requirements of the property. Decisions to dispose of or divest a property or an asset require thorough examination and economic appraisal.
Generally, a property can be disposed of through the sale, transfer, or relinquishment. But on another hand, under the Criminal Law, the procedure followed for the disposal is also different. The procedure and remedies for the disposal of the property are well mentioned in section 452 to section 459 of the criminal procedure code.
TYPES OF PROPERTY AND METHODS OF DISPOSAL
In criminal law, there are four types of properties or any type of document in which the court deals with. These are as follows:
- The property on which an offence has been committed.
- Any property which has been used for committing an offence.
- The property which has been produced before the hon’ble court as evidence.
- The property in the custody of the court.
Hence, we can say that all those documents or any articles which are produced before the court to produce as evidence or for an inquiry are eligible for the disposal under the term PROPERTY.
METHODS that can be used for the disposal of the property are listed here:
- Destruction of the property.
- Endorsement to any person who claims to be entitled to the possession of the property.
Thus, the court may use the appropriate method in deciding about the disposal of the property.
Let us now move on to the legal provisions provided by the law.
CHAPTER-34 SECTION 451-459, THE CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE, 1973.
The Code has given the power to the courts which are relating to the disposal of the properties which are in dispute after the trial has been concluded as the court thinks fit either by destruction, confiscation, or by endorsement to the person claiming it.
SECTION 451: Order For Custody And Disposal Of Property Pending Trial In Certain Cases.
It provides that the court may take custody of a property which it thinks fit for the proper custody of such property pending the conclusion of the inquiry or trial. It also provides that if the property is subject to speedy and natural decay, the court may order to sell or otherwise dispose of.
And for the above purposes of the above-stated section, the term PROPERTY includes:-
- Property of any kind or document which is produced before the Court or which is in its custody.
- Any property regarding which an offence appears to have been committed or which appears to have been used for the commission of any offence.
ABDUL JABAR V. KHALEED AHMAD, 1988 CrLJ 810 (Kant)
In this case, the petitioner was 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)
Here, 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 about the transfer of the vehicle and not concerning 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.
SECTION 452: Order For Disposal Of Property At Conclusion Of Trial.
It says that after the inquiry of the trial process is done, the court may make an order to dispose of the property. The methods that can be used are as follows:
(iv) Delivery to any person claiming to be entitled to possession thereof
Now, if the property which is delivered to the person claiming for its entitlement, may execute a bond with/without securities. The bond contains that he will restore or give back the property to the court if the order is modified or set aside on appeal or also on revision in any case.
A Court of Session may order to direct the property to deliver to the Chief Judicial Magistrate, who shall thereupon deal with it in the manner provided in sections 457, 458, and 459.
If the property is subject to speedy and also natural decay, shall not be carried out for 2 months or when an appeal is presented, until disposition of the appeal.
KESHAR SINGH VS THE STATE OF BIHAR 2013
In this case, it was held that Sections 451 and 452 of CrPC, 1973 cannot be made applicable for the disposal of the property because during the trial the accused died and on account of death the proceeding has abated and it will not be deemed that proceeding has concluded in absence of final judgment by the Criminal Court. Hence, the Criminal Court will have jurisdiction only to the extent when there is no serious dispute of title, ownership, and possession over the property.
RE MASGI BITCHANNA A.I.R.1969 AP 54
The court held that in serious disputes about the title or the ownership the parties would be asked to approach the Civil Court and get the dispute settled as the Criminal Court cannot go into these disputes and decide.
SECTION 453: Payment To Innocent Purchaser Of Money Found On Accused
It says that if a person purchases a stolen property with bonafide intention, without knowing that the property is stolen, then this property may be recovered from the person and if the amount is recovered by the accused, then he may be entitled to the same amount (not exceeding the price paid by the purchaser) which was given by him for the property.
SECTION 454: Appeal Against Orders Under Section 452 Or Section 453
This section provides a person who can appeal against an order made by a court under section 452 or section 453 to the Court to which appeals ordinarily lie from convictions by the former Court.
On this, the Court may direct the order to stay pending disposal of the appeal or may modify, alter or annul the order and make any further orders that may be just.
SECTION 455: Destruction Of Libellous And Other Matter
It says that if a person is convicted under section 292, 293, 501 or 502 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860), the court can order the destruction of all the copies of the thing in respect of which the conviction was had, and which are in the custody of the Court or remain in the possession or power of the person convicted.
Also, if a person convicted under section 272, 273, 274, or section 275 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860), the court can order the food, drink, drug, or medical preparation in respect of which the conviction was to be destroyed.
SECTION 456: Power To Restore Possession Of Immovable Property
Basically, this section deals with the immovable property as sections 451 to 455 deals with movable property. It says, if a person convicted of an offence attended by criminal force or show of force or by criminal intimidation, and it appears to the Court that, by such force or show of force or intimidation, any person has been dispossessed of any immovable property, the Court may, if it thinks fit, order that possession of the same be restored to that person after evicting by force, if necessary, any other person who may be in possession of the property, Provided that no such order shall be made by the Court more than one month after the date of the conviction.
Sub-Section (2) provides 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.
Sub-Section (3) provides the provisions of section 454 shall also apply to this section as well.
Sub-Section (4) says 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)
In this case, Rajasthan High Court held that where the accused had been wrongfully dispossessed an order of the restoration survives even after his death and abatement of the appeal, and whosoever be in possession of that property including his legal representatives are bound to restore it.
SECTION 457: Procedure By Police Upon Seizure Of Property
It provides the Procedure By Police Upon Seizure Of Property. It says that whenever the court gets a report of seizure of property by the police, even if such property is not produced before a criminal court during an inquiry as well as trial, the court can order disposal of the property as it deems fit.
Sub-Section (2) saya that if a person so entitled is known, the court may order the property to be delivered to him on such conditions (if any) as the Magistrate thinks fit and if such person is unknown, the court may detain it and shall, in such case, issue a proclamation specifying the articles of which such property consists, and requiring any person who may have a claim thereto, to appear before him and establish his claim within six months from the date of such proclamation.
M.MUNISWAMY VS. STATE OF A.P. 1992 (3) ALT 50
In this case, it under Section-457 was held that the Scope of Magistrate has the power to pass orders as to disposal or delivery of property seized by police during the investigation and brought to his notice before commencement of inquiry or trial.
VORUGANTI SESHACHALA VENKATESWARLU VS. GOVERNMENT OF A.P. 2003 (2) ALT 444.
In this case, it was held that the Magistrate has no jurisdiction under Section 457 of CRPC, 1973 of the court to pass an order for custody of the vehicle not produced before him in an inquiry or trial.
SECTION 458: Procedure When No Claimant Appears Within Six Month
This section says that if no person claims the property to be his own or the person in whose possession such property was found is unable to show that it was legally acquired by him, within a period of 6 months, the court may by order direct that such property shall be at the disposal of the State Government and may be sold by that Government and the proceeds of such sale shall be dealt with in such manner as may be prescribed.
SECTION 459: Power To Sell Perishable Property
This section states that if a property which is perishable and the possession of such property is unknown or absent and the property is subject to speedy and natural decay, or if the Magistrate to whom its seizure is reported is of opinion that its sale would be for the benefit of the owner, or that the value of such property is less than five hundred rupees, the court may at any time direct it to be sold; and the provisions of sections 457 and 458 shall, as nearly as may be practicable, apply to the net proceeds of such sale.
KANWAR SINGH AND ANR. VS. STATE OF HIMACHAL PRADESH, 2002CriLJ3501
In this case, a petition under section 397 of the code of criminal procedure has been directed against the order dated 15-10-2001 passed by the learned additional sessions judge, Shimla, whereby he had dismissed the appeal preferred by the petitioners under section 454 of the code against the order of the learned judicial magistrate, held that whether an appeal preferred by the petitioners against the confiscation order under section 454 of the code is maintainable or not.
The law provides power to dispose of any property which has been used for any offence under the criminal law. This also shows that any property unless it is necessary cannot be retained in the custody of the police, the property is to be disposed of immediately at the discretion of the Magistrate after it is no longer needed by the court. Hence, the court must pass the appropriate orders by the law for the disposal of such property.
Besides the procedure under section 451-459 of Cr.P.C, there are also some rules provided in Criminal Rules of Practice also deals with the concept of custody in Rules 220-222 of Criminal Rules of Practice, submission of the material objects in Rules 223-226 of Criminal Rules of Practice and disposal of case properties in Rules 227-234 of Criminal Rules of Practice.
So, to conclude we can say that the Disposal of Property is nothing but is a matter of unfettered discretion for the court dealing with it.