whether it is the Authorised Officer under that Act or the Magistrate under the CrPC who is vested with the power to order interim release of forest produce seized under the Act. = 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 produce and of tools, boats, vehicles and articles used in the commission of offences. Upon a seizure under Section 52(1), the officer effecting the seizure has to either produce the property before the Authorised 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 Authorised Officer is empowered, for reasons to be recorded, to confiscate the forest produce together with the tools, vehicles, boats and articles used in its commission. Before confiscating any property under sub-section (3), the Authorised 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 the offence. Where it is intended to immediately launch a criminal proceeding, a report of the seizure is made to the Magistrate having jurisdiction to try the 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 Authorised 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 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 31 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 Authorised Officer initiated confiscation proceedings The Madhya Pradesh amendments to the Indian Forest Act 1927 are infused with a salutary public purpose. Protection of forests against depredation is a constitutionally mandated goal exemplified by Article 48A28 of the Directive Principles and the Fundamental Duty of every citizen incorporated in Article 51A(g)29. By isolating the confiscation of forest produce and the instruments utilised for the commission of an offence from criminal trials, the legislature intended to ensure that confiscation is an effective deterrent.

1

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
Criminal Appeal No. 524 of 2019
(@ Special Leave Petition (Crl) No 2001 of 2012)
The State of Madhya Pradesh …Appellant
Versus
Uday Singh …Respondent
With
Criminal Appeal No. 525 of 2019
(@ Special Leave Petition (Crl) No 5413 of 2013)
The State of Madhya Pradesh …Appellant
Versus
Rakesh Lavaniya …Respondent
With
REPORTABLE
2
Criminal Appeal Nos 1362-1363 of 2012
Adhikshak Rashtriya Chambal Abhyaran …Appellant
Versus
Narottam Singh …Respondent
And With
Criminal Appeal No 1364 of 2012
Authorised Officer & Sub-Divisional
Officer, Shivpuri, M.P. …Appellant
Versus
Jashrat Singh …Respondent
J U D G M E N T
Dr Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, J
1 Leave granted in the Special Leave Petitions.
Criminal Appeal No.524 of 2019 @ SLP (Crl.) No.2001 of 2002:
2 This appeal arises from a judgment of a learned Single Judge of the High
Court of Madhya Pradesh at its Gwalior Bench dated 29 July 2011. Allowing a
3
petition under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 19731
, the High
Court set aside a revisional order dated 16 June 2011 of the Additional Sessions
Judge, Morena. The Additional Sessions Judge had confirmed an order of the
Judicial Magistrate First Class2
, Ambah dismissing an application under Section
451 of the CrPC seeking the release of a tractor and trolley which had been
seized for being involved in the illegal excavation of sand from the Chambal river.
3 On 26 March 2011, the Forest Officer apprehended a tractor and trolley
belonging to the respondent alleged to have been carrying sand illegally
excavated from a restricted area of Dalijeet Pura Ghat at the National Sanctuary,
Chambal without permission and in the absence of a transit pass. The tractor and
trolley was seized together with the sand by the officers of the Forest Department
under Sections 41, 52 and 52-A of the Indian Forest Act, 19273
and Sections 27,
29, 39(1)(d), 51 and 52 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Intimation of the
seizure was given to the Magistrate under Section 52 of the Indian Forest Act,
1927 on 27 March 2011. The respondent moved an application4
under Section
451 of the CrPC5
before the JMFC, Ambah for interim release of the seized
vehicle. The Magistrate dismissed the application by an order dated 21 April
1 “CrPC”
2 “JMFC”
3 “Indian Forest Act”
4 Application No 9661 of 2009
5 “Section 451 – Order for custody and disposal of property pending trial in certain cases. — When any
property is produced before any Criminal Court during an inquiry or trial, the Court may make such order as it
thinks fit for the proper custody of such property pending the conclusion of the inquiry or trial, and, if the property
is subject to speedy and natural decay, or if it is otherwise expedient so to do, the Court may, after recording such
evidence as it thinks necessary, order it to be sold or otherwise disposed of.
Explanation. — For the purposes of this section, “property” includes—
(a) property of any kind or document which is produced before the Court or which is in its custody.
(b) any property regarding which an offence appears to have been committed or which appears to have
been used for the commission of any offence”
4

  1. A Criminal Revision6
    met with the same fate before the District and
    Sessions Judge, Morena on 16 June 2011. The respondent then instituted
    proceedings under Section 482 of the CrPC7
    before the High Court of Madhya
    Pradesh at its Gwalior Bench. By a judgment dated 29 July 2011, the High Court
    directed the Magistrate to pass orders for the interim release of the vehicle. The
    State of Madhya Pradesh has instituted these proceedings under Article 136 of
    the Constitution to assail the judgment of the High Court.
    4 The grievance of the State of Madhya Pradesh is that similar orders have
    been passed by the High Court directing the Magistrate to release seized
    vehicles, relying on a decision of this Court in State of Madhya Pradesh v
    Madhukar Rao8
    . According to the State, in Madhukar Rao, this Court interpreted
    the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and came to the conclusion
    that the Magistrate has the power and jurisdiction under Section 451 of the CrPC
    to order interim release of a seized vehicle. On the other hand, it has been
    submitted that the present case and other cases of its genre are governed by the
    provisions of the Indian Forest Act 1927 as amended in relation to the State of
    Madhya Pradesh by MP Act 25 of 1983. The submission is that the confiscation
    proceedings have been initiated in terms of Section 52(3) and hence the
    procedure is governed by Sections 52 and 52-A. Consequently, the jurisdiction of
    the Magistrate under Section 451 of the CrPC would (it has been urged) stand
    excluded. Elaborating on the above submissions, learned counsel appearing on
    behalf of the appellant has relied on the decisions of this Court in: (i) Divisional
    6 68 of 2011
    7 Miscellaneous Criminal Case No. 5171 of 2011
    8 (2008) 14 SCC 624
    5
    Forest Officer v GV Sudhakar Rao9
    , (ii) State of Karnataka v KA
    Kunchindammed10
    , (iii) State of West Bengal v Sujit Kumar Rana11; and (iv)
    State of Madhya Pradesh v Kallo Bai12
    .
    5 Learned counsel appearing on behalf of the appellant submitted that:
    (i) Section 52 of the Forest Act provides that when a forest offence has been
    committed in respect of any forest produce, the produce together with all
    tools, boats, vehicles, ropes, chains or any other article used in committing
    the offence may be seized by any Forest Officer. Section 52(3) provides that
    subject to sub-section (5), where the Authorised Officer, upon production
    before him of property seized or upon receipt of a report about seizure, as
    the case may be, is satisfied that a forest offence has been committed in
    respect thereof, he may order in writing, for reasons to be recorded, the
    confiscation of the forest produce so seized together with all tools, vehicles,
    boats, chains or any other article used in committing the offence;
    (ii) For the State of Madhya Pradesh, MP Act 25 of 1983 substituted the original
    provisions of Section 52 of the Forest Act, with certain conditions. Subsection (3) of Section 52 as enacted by MP Act 25 of 1983, empowers the
    Authorised Officer to make an order in writing with reasons confiscating the
    forest produce so seized along with the tools, vehicles or any other article
    used in committing the offence. Similarly, for the State of Madhya Pradesh,
    MP Act 25 of 1983 inserted Section 52-A which provides for an appeal
    9 (1985) 4 SCC 573
    10 (2002) 9 SCC 90
    11 (2004) 4 SCC 129
    12 (2017) 14 SCC 502
    6
    against the order of confiscation to the Appellate Authority within thirty days
    of the order of confiscation being passed by the Authorised Officer;
    (iii) The High Court has erred in directing the release of the seized vehicle in
    exercise of its inherent jurisdiction under Section 482 of the CrPC. The High
    Court failed to appreciate that in the present case confiscation proceedings
    have been initiated in terms of sub-section (3) of Section 52 of the Forest
    Act, and the procedure thereafter would be governed by Sections 52 and
    52-A. Since the confiscation proceedings have been initiated by the forest
    department, in terms of Section 52(3), the Magistrate in pursuance of the
    power conferred under Section 451 of the CrPC cannot direct release of the
    seized vehicle, as the jurisdiction of the criminal court stands excluded;
    (iv) This Court in Sujit Kumar Rana (supra) has held that once confiscation
    proceedings are initiated, the jurisdiction of the criminal court stands
    excluded. Since confiscation proceedings have been initiated by the forest
    authorities in terms of Section 52(3), the Magistrate cannot order release of
    the vehicle under Section 451 of the CrPC. Similarly, the High Court cannot
    under Section 482 of the CrPC direct release of the seized vehicle as the
    jurisdiction of the criminal court stands excluded; and
    (v) The legislative intent while inserting the abovementioned provisions must be
    kept in mind. Forests are a national wealth which are required to be
    preserved. In most cases, the State is the owner of the forest and forest
    produce and is enjoined with a duty to preserve forests to maintain an
    ecological balance. Therefore, statutory interpretation of such provisions
    should have regard to the principle of purposive construction so as to give
    7
    effect to the aim and object of the legislature, and keeping the principles
    contained in Articles 48-A and 51-A(g) of the Constitution in mind.
    6 On the other hand, it has been urged on behalf of the respondent 13 that
    Chapter IX of the Forest Act, as amended in its application to the State of
    Madhya Pradesh, does not oust the jurisdiction of the Magistrate to deal with
    seized property, once it becomes a part of evidence at a criminal trial under the
    CrPC. In this context, it was urged that:
    (i) Under Section 52(2), where the intention is to launch criminal proceeding,
    the report is to be sent only to the Magistrate having jurisdiction to try the
    offence and not the Authorised Officer. The expression “officer seizing the
    property” needs to be distinguished from the expression “authorised officer
    under the Act”;
    (ii) The said Authorised Officer can proceed to satisfy herself whether a forest
    offence has been committed or not under Section 52(3), only if the seized
    property is produced before the Authorised Officer. If under Section 52(2),
    the report of the seizure has been sent to the Magistrate, the Authorised
    Officer cannot decide upon the commission of a forest offence, as the report
    of seizure is not before the Authorised Officer;
    (iii) Since Authorised Officers cannot apply themselves to whether the seizure
    was valid, the circumstance of the Authorised Officer passing an order of
    confiscation does not arise at all. It follows that the intimation under Section
    52(4) cannot be given when there is no confiscation;
    13 In SLP (Crl.) No 5413 of 2013
    8
    (iv) The bar on jurisdiction under Section 52-C only applies after intimation
    under Section 52(4) is given. Since the Authorised Officer cannot pass an
    order of confiscation, the jurisdiction for trial of a criminal offence and the
    power to deal with the property involved rests with the Magistrate; and
    (v) Therefore, there is no scope for parallel proceedings before both the
    Authorised Officer and the Magistrate, if the officer seizing the property
    believes that the gravity of the offence calls for a criminal trial and sends the
    report of seizure directly to the Magistrate.
    7 The rival submissions fall for consideration.
    8 Section 52 of the Forest Act forms a part of Chapter IX which deals with
    penalties and procedure. In relation to Madhya Pradesh, Section 52 was
    substituted by MP Act 25 of 1983 and is in the following terms:
    “52. Seizure of property liable to confiscation and
    procedure therefor.—
    (1) When there is reason to believe that a forest offence has
    been committed in respect of any reserved forest and
    protected forest or forest produce, the produce, and all tools,
    boats, vehicles, ropes, chains or any other article used in
    committing such offence, may be seized by any forest officer
    or police officer.
    (2) Every officer seizing any property under this section shall
    place on such property a mark indicating that the same has
    been so seized and shall, as soon as may be, either produce
    the property seized before an officer not below the rank of an
    Extra Assistant Conservative of Forests by the State
    Government in this behalf by notification (hereinafter referred
    to as the authorized officer) or where it is, having regard to
    the quantity of bulk or other genuine difficulty, not practicable
    to produce property seized before the authorized officer,
    make a report about the seizure to the authorized officer, or
    where it is intended to launch criminal proceedings against
    the offender immediately, make a report of such seizure to the
    magistrate having jurisdiction to try the offence on account of
    which the seizure has been made:
    9
    Provided that, when the forest produce with respect to which
    offence is believed to have been committed is the property of
    the Government, and the offender is unknown, it shall be
    sufficient if the officer makes, as soon as may be, a report of
    the circumstances to his official superior.
    (3) Subject to sub-section (5), where the authorized officer
    upon production before him of property seized or upon receipt
    of report about seizure, as the case may be, is satisfied that a
    forest offence has been committed in respect thereof, he may
    by order in writing and for reasons to be recorded confiscate
    forest-produce so seized together with all tools, vehicles,
    boats, ropes, chains or any other article used in committing
    such offence. A copy of order of confiscation shall be
    forwarded without any undue delay to the Conservators of
    Forests of the forest circle in which the timber or the forestproduce, as the case may be, has been seized.
    (4) No order confiscating any property shall be made under
    sub-section (3) unless the authorized officer—
    (a) sends an intimation in form prescribed about initiation of
    proceedings for confiscation of property to the magistrate
    having jurisdiction to try the offence on account of which the
    seizure has been made;
    (b) issues a notice in writing to the person from whom the
    property is seized, and to any other person who may appear
    to the authorized officer to have some interest in such
    property;
    (c) affords an opportunity to the persons referred to in clause
    (b) of making a representation within such reasonable time as
    may be specified in the notice against the proposed
    confiscation; and
    (d) gives to the officer effecting the seizure and the person or
    persons to whom notice has been issued under clause (b), a
    hearing on date to be fixed for such purpose.
    (5) No order of confiscation under sub-section (3) of any
    tools, vehicles, boats, ropes, chains or any other article (other
    than timber or forest-produce seized) shall be made if any
    person referred to in clause (b) of sub-section (4) proves to
    the satisfaction of authorized officer that any such tools,
    vehicles, boats, ropes, chains or other articles were used
    without his knowledge or convenience or, as the case may
    be, without the knowledge or convenience of his servant or
    agent and that all reasonable and necessary precautions had
    been taken against use of the objects aforesaid for
    commission of forest-offence.
    (6) The seized property shall continue to be under custody
    until confirmation of the order of the authorized officer by the
    Appellate Authority or until the expiry of the period for
    initiating ‘suo motu’ action by him whichever is earlier, as
    prescribed under Section 52-A.
    10
    (7) Where the authorized officer having jurisdiction over the
    case is himself involved in the seizure or investigation, the
    next higher authority may transfer the case to any other
    officer of the same rank for conducting proceedings under this
    section.”
    9 Under sub-section (1) of Section 52, where there is a reason to believe
    that a forest offence has been committed in respect of any reserved or protected
    forest or forest produce, the produce, and all tools, boats, vehicles or articles
    used in committing the offence may be seized by any Forest Officer or Police
    Officer. Under sub-section (2), the officer seizing the property is required to place
    a mark of seizure and produce the property before the Authorised Officer or,
    where it is not practicable to produce the property seized, make a report to the
    Authorised Officer. Where it is intended to launch criminal proceedings against
    the offender immediately, a report of the seizure has to be made to the
    Magistrate having jurisdiction to try the offence on account of which the seizure
    has been made. Sub-section (3) stipulates that subject to sub-section (5), the
    Authorised Officer may upon being satisfied that a forest offence has been
    committed upon the production of the property seized or on the receipt of a report
    about the seizure, order the forest produce so seized, together with all tools,
    vehicles, boats or article used in the commission of the offence to be confiscated.
    No order of confiscation can be made unless the conditions mentioned under
    sub-section (4) are complied with. Those conditions are:
    (i) The Forest Officer must send an intimation in the form prescribed about the
    initiation of proceedings for confiscation of the property to the Magistrate
    having jurisdiction to try the offence;
    11
    (ii) The issuance of a notice to the person from whom the property has been
    seized or any other person who appears to have an interest in the property;
    (iii) Affording a reasonable opportunity of making a representation against the
    proposed confiscation; and
    (iv) Furnishing of an opportunity of being heard to the officer effecting the
    seizure and to the person to whom a notice has been given. Sub-section (5)
    provides that no order for confiscation can be passed if the person to whom
    a notice has been issued under clause (b) of sub-section (4) proves that the
    tools, vehicles, boats or article were used without her knowledge or
    connivance and that reasonable and necessary precautions had been taken
    against their use for the commission of a forest offence.
    10 Section 52-A provides an appellate remedy to a person aggrieved to the
    Conservator of Forests, against an order of confiscation. Section 52-A provides
    as follows:
    “52-A. Appeal against the order of confiscation.—
    (1) Any person aggrieved by an order of confiscation may,
    within thirty days of the order, or if fact of such order has
    not been communicated to him within thirty days of date
    of knowledge of such order, prefer an appeal in writing,
    accompanied by such fee and payable in such form as
    may be prescribed and by certified copy of order of
    confiscation to the Conservator of Forests (hereinafter
    referred to as Appellate Authority) of the forest circle in
    which the forest produce, has been seized.
    Explanation. – (1) The time requisite for obtaining certified
    copy of order of confiscation shall be excluded while
    computing period of thirty days referred to in this subsection.
    (2) The Appellate Authority referred to in sub-section (1),
    may, where no appeal has been preferred before him,
    “suo motu” within thirty days of date of receipt of copy of
    order of confiscation by him, and shall on presentation of
    memorandum of appeal issue a notice for hearing of
    appeal or, as the case may be, of “suo motu” action to the
    12
    officer effecting seizure and to any other person (including
    appellant, if any) who in the opinion of the Appellate
    Authority, is likely to be adversely affected by the order of
    the authorised officer, and may send for the record of the
    case:
    Provided that no formal notice of appeal need be issued
    to such amongst the appellant, officer effecting seizure
    and any other person likely to be adversely affected as
    aforesaid, as may waive the notice or as may be informed
    in any other manner of date of hearing of appeal by the
    Appellate Authority.
    (3) The Appellate Authority shall send intimation in writing
    of lodging of appeal or about “suo motu” action, to the
    Authorised Officer.
    (4) The Appellate Authority may pass such order of
    “Interim” nature for custody, preservation or disposal (if
    necessary) of the subject matter of confiscation, as may
    appear to be just or proper in the circumstances of the
    case.
    (5) The Appellate Authority, having regard to the nature of
    the case or the complexities involved, may permit parties
    to the appeal to be represented by their respective legal
    practitioners.
    (6) On the date fixed for hearing of the appeal or “suo
    motu” action, or on such date to which the hearing may
    be adjourned, the Appellate Authority shall peruse the
    record and hear the parties to the appeal if present in
    person, or through any agent duly authorised in writing or
    through a legal practitioner, and shall thereafter proceed
    to pass an order of confirmation, reversal or modification
    order of the authorised officer:
    Provided that before passing any final order the Appellate
    Authority may if, it is considered necessary for proper
    decision of appeal or for proper disposal of “suo motu”
    action, make further inquiry itself or cause it to be made
    by the Authorised Officer, and may also allow parties to
    file affidavits for asserting or refuting any fact that may
    arise for consideration and may allow proof of facts by
    affidavits.
    (7) The Appellate Authority may also pass such orders of
    consequential nature, as it may deem necessary.
    (8) Copy of final order or of order of consequential nature,
    shall be sent to the Authorised Officer for compliance or
    for passing any order appropriate order in conformity with
    the order of the Appellate Authority.”
    Significantly, under sub-section (4) of Section 52-A, the Appellate Authority is
    empowered to pass orders of an interim nature for the custody, preservation or
    13
    disposal of the subject matter of the confiscation. Section 52-B provides for the
    remedy of a revision before the Court of Sessions against an order of the
    Appellate Authority. Section 52-B is in the following terms:
    “52-B. Revision before Court of Sessions against order of
    Appellate Authority.—
    (1) Any party to the appeal, aggrieved by final order or by
    order of consequential nature passed by the Appellate
    Authority, may within thirty days of the order sought to be
    impugned, submit a petition for revision to the Court of
    Sessions within the Sessions division whereof the
    headquarters of the Appellate Authority are situate.
    Explanation.—In computing the period of thirty days under
    this sub-section, the time requisite for obtaining certified copy
    of Appellate Authority shall be excluded.
    (2) The Court of Sessions, may confirm, reverse or modify
    any final order or an order of consequential nature passed by
    the Appellate Authority.
    (3) Copies of the order passed in revision shall be sent to the
    Appellate Authority and to the Authorised officer for
    compliance or for passing such further orders or for taking
    such further action as may be directed by such Court.
    (4) For entertaining, hearing and deciding a revision under
    this section, the Court of Sessions shall, as far as may be,
    exercise the same powers and follow the same procedure as
    it exercises and follows while entertaining, hearing and
    deciding a revision under the Code of Criminal Procedure,
    1973 (No. 2 of 1974).
    (5) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in
    Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (No. 2 of 1974), the order
    of the Court of Sessions passed under this section shall be
    final and shall not be called in question before any Court.”
    Section 52-C contains a bar to the jurisdiction of courts, tribunals and authorities:
    “52-C. Bar of Jurisdiction of court, etc., under certain
    circumstances.—
    (1) On receipt of intimation under sub-section (4) of section
    52 about initiation of proceedings for confiscation or property
    by the magistrate having jurisdiction to try the offence on
    account of which the seizure of property which is subject
    matter of confiscation, has been made, no Court, Tribunal or
    Authority (other than the authorised officer, Appellate
    Authority and Court of Sessions referred to in sections 52, 52-
    A and 52-B) shall have jurisdiction to make orders with regard
    to possession, delivery, disposal or distribution of the property
    in regard to which proceedings for confiscation are initiated
    14
    under section 52, notwithstanding anything contrary in this
    Act, or any other law for the time being in force.
    Explanation.—Where under any law for the time being in
    force, two or more Courts have jurisdiction to try forestoffence, then receipt of intimation under sub-section (4) of
    section 52 by one of the Courts of Magistrate having such
    jurisdiction shall be construed to be receipt of intimation under
    that provision by all the Courts and the bar to exercise
    jurisdiction shall operate on all such Courts.
    (2) Nothing in sub-section (1) shall affect the power saved
    under section 61.”
    Section 53 deals with the power to release property which is seized under Section
    52:
    “53. Power to release property seized under Section 52.-
    Any Forest-officer of a rank not inferior to that of a Ranger,
    who, or whose sub-ordinate, has seized any tools, boats,
    vehicles or any other article Section 52, may release the
    same on the execution by the owner thereof, of a security in a
    form as may be prescribed of an amount equal to the value of
    such property, as estimated by such officer, for the production
    of the property so released, when so required, before the
    authorised officer under Section 52 or the Magistrate having
    jurisdiction to try the offence on account of which the seizure
    has been made.”
    This provision was substituted by MP Act 7 of 2010. Prior to the substitution,
    Section 53 stipulated the release of the property seized on the execution of a
    bond, for the production of the property, when required, before the Magistrate
    having jurisdiction to try the offence. Under Section 60, the property which has
    been confiscated by an Authorised Officer under Section 52 is to vest in the
    government, subject to the result of the proceedings before the Appellate
    Authority under Section 52 or upon suo motu action under Section 52-A or a
    revision before the Court of Sessions under Section 52-B.
    15
    11 The provisions for seizure and confiscation are depicted in Flow chart I
    below:
    Flow Chart I: Seizure and Confiscation
    Section 52
    Sub-section (1) – Where there is reason to believe that a forest offence has been
    committed in respect of forest produce, the produce and all tools, ropes, vehicles
    etc. used in commission of such offence may be seized by the Forest Officer.
    Sub-section (2)
    Mark the property and produce it
    before Authorised Officer.
    Or if the seized property is in bulk,
    make a report to the Authorised
    Officer.
    Where it is intended to launch a
    criminal proceeding against the
    offender, immediately make a
    report to the Magistrate having
    jurisdiction.
    Sub-Section (3)
    Subject to sub-section (5), the Authorised Officer upon the production of the property
    seized or report of seizure, on being satisfied that a forest offence has been
    committed, for reasons to be recorded, can confiscate the forest produce so seized
    together with the vehicle.
    Sub-section (4)
    No order of confiscation may be made unless the Authorised Officer sends an
    intimation to the Magistrate having jurisdiction and issues notice, and grants an
    opportunity of making representation and hearing to a person from whom property
    had been seized or who has an interest in such property.
    Sub-section (5)
    No order under sub-section (3), shall be made if the person under clause (b) of subsection (4) proves that such tools, vehicles, etc. were used without her knowledge or
    connivance and all reasonable and necessary precautions had been taken against
    their use.
    16
    Section 52-A – Appeal against order of confiscation – Any person aggrieved by the
    order of confiscation, may prefer an appeal in writing within thirty days.
    Section 52-B – Revision before Court of Sessions against order of Appellate
    Authority –
    (i) The party aggrieved by the order of the Appellate Authority can submit a
    revision to the Court of Sessions within thirty days.
    (ii) The Court of Sessions may confirm, reverse or modify the order.
    Section 52-C – Bar to jurisdiction of Court under certain circumstances –
    (i) No court, tribunal or authority except the Authorised Officer or Appellate
    Authority and Court of Sessions referred under Sections 52, 52-A and 52-B shall
    have jurisdiction to make order in regard to possession, disposal, distribution, or
    delivery of the property.
    (ii) Nothing in sub-section (1) shall affect the power saved under Section 61.
    Section 53 – Power to release property seized under Section 52 – A Forest Officer,
    not below the rank of Ranger, who or whose subordinate has seized the property
    under Section 52, may release it on the execution of security, equal to the value of
    such property in a form as prescribed, by the owner of the property.
    17
    13 Distinct from the proceedings for confiscation envisaged under the Forest
    Act are those relating to criminal prosecution, as amended by the State of
    12 Distinct from the proceedings for confiscation envisaged under the Forest
    Act are those relating to criminal prosecution, as amended by the State of
    Madhya Pradesh. Section 52(2) stipulates that where it is intended to launch a
    criminal proceeding against an offender immediately, a report of the seizure has
    to be made to the Magistrate having jurisdiction to try the offence. Where the
    property which has been seized under Section 52 is released by an Authorised
    Officer under Section 53, it must be upon execution of security in such form as
    may be prescribed, equal to the value of the property, so as to ensure the
    production of the property when required before the Magistrate having jurisdiction
    to try the offence. On receipt of a report under Section 52(2), Section 54
    stipulates that the Magistrate must take all measures necessary for the arrest and
    trial of the offender and the disposal of the property according to law. Section 54
    provides thus:
    “54. Procedure thereupon.- Upon the receipt of any such
    report, the Magistrate shall, with all convenient despatch, take
    such measures as may be necessary for the arrest and trial of
    the offender and the disposal of the property according to law:
    Provided that before passing any order for disposal of
    property, the Magistrate shall satisfy himself that no
    intimation under sub-section (4) of section 52 has been
    Section 60 – Property confiscated under Section 52 shall vest in the Government
    free from all encumbrances upon:
    (i) Expiry of period specified for preferring an appeal or for taking ‘suo moto’
    action under Section 52-A, whichever is later.
    (ii) Expiry of period specified for submitting petition for revision under Section
    52-B.
    18
    received by his Court or by another Court having
    jurisdiction to try the offence on account of which the
    seizure of property has been made.”
    (emphasis supplied)
    This proviso is significant, because before passing any order for disposal of the
    property, the Magistrate must be satisfied that no intimation has been received
    under Section 52(4).
    13 Section 55 provides that upon the conviction of the offender for a forest
    offence, the forest produce together with tools, boats, vehicles and other articles
    used for its commission shall be liable to confiscation, subject to the provisions
    of Sections 52, 52-A, 52-B and 52-C:
    “55. Forest-produce, tools, etc., when liable to
    confiscation.- (1) All timber or forest produce which in either
    case is not the property of the Government and in respect of
    which a forest-offence has been committed, and all tools,
    boats, vehicles, ropes, chains or any other article, in each
    case used in committing any forest-offence, shall subject to
    provisions of Sections 52, 52-A, 52-B and 52-C, be liable to
    confiscation upon conviction of the offender for such forestoffence.
    (2) Such confiscation may be in addition to any other
    punishment prescribed for such offence.”
    14 The intent of the State Legislature is emphasised by the provisions
    contained in the proviso to Section 54 as well as in sub-section (1) of Section 55.
    Under Section 52(2) where it is intended to launch criminal proceedings against
    the offender immediately, the officer seizing any property under the Section has to
    make a report of the seizure to the Magistrate having jurisdiction to try the offence
    on account of which the seizure has been made. Upon the conviction of the
    offender for a forest offence, Section 55 clearly indicates that the forest produce
    and all tools, boats, vehicles, articles etc. used in the commission of the forest
    19
    offence would be liable to confiscation subject to the provisions of Sections 52,
    52-A, 52-B and 52-C.
    15 Section 56 provides that upon the conclusion of the trial, any forest
    produce in respect of which a forest offence has been committed shall, where it is
    the property of the government or has been confiscated, be taken charge of by a
    Forest Officer and, in any other case, may be disposed of in such manner as the
    Court may direct.
    16 Section 57 deals with a situation where the offender is not known or cannot
    be found. Section 58 deals with the procedure to be followed in respect of
    perishable property seized under Section 52.
    17 Section 59 provides that the officer making a seizure under Section 52, or
    any superior or a person claiming to be interested in the property seized, may
    within a month of any order passed under Sections 55, 56 or 57 appeal to the
    Court to which orders made by the Magistrate are ordinarily appealable. Under
    sub-section (2) of Section 60, where no appeal has been preferred within the
    period of limitation or where an appeal has been preferred and the order has
    been confirmed by the appellate Court, the property shall vest with the
    government free from all encumbrances.
    18 Flow-chart II below indicates the scheme in relation to criminal proceedings
    under the Forest Act as amended by the State of Madhya Pradesh:
    Flow Chart II : Criminal Proceedings
    Section 52(2) – Launch of criminal proceedings
    Where it is intended to launch a criminal proceeding against the offender, the officer
    seizing the property is to immediately make a report of such seizure to the
    Magistrate having jurisdiction to the try the offence.
    20
    Section 54
    Upon receipt of a report under 52(2), the Magistrate shall take measures for arrest
    and trial of the offender and disposal of property under law. Provided there is no
    intimation under Section 52(4) with respect to initiation of confiscation proceedings
    by the Authorised Officer.
    Section 55
    Forest produce, vehicles and tools or any other article used in committing a forest
    offence, shall be liable to confiscation upon conviction of the offender. Provision
    subject to Section 52, 52-A, 52-B and 52-C.
    Section 56
    Disposal of produce in respect of which offence has been committed, on conclusion
    of the trial – When a trial of a forest offence is concluded, any forest produce in
    respect of which a forest offence has been committed, both property of government
    or which has been confiscated, are to be taken charge of by the Forest Officer, and
    in any other case, may be disposed of in such a manner as directed by the Court.
    Section 57
    When an offender is not known, or cannot be found – the Magistrate may order the
    property to be confiscated and taken charge of by the Forest Officer, or the person
    deemed fit by the Magistrate. No order to be made for thirty days from the date of
    seizing or without hearing the person, who claims any right thereto.
    Section 58
    Procedure as to perishable property seized under Section 52 – Notwithstanding
    anything contained hereinbefore, the Magistrate may direct sale of perishable
    property and deal with the sale proceeds.
    21
    19 Several decisions rendered by this Court have a bearing on the
    controversy involved in the present case. In a decision of 1985 in GV Sudhakar
    Rao (supra), the issue before a two judge Bench of this Court was whether the
    High Court could have taken recourse to Section 482 of the CrPC to stay
    proceedings for the confiscation of illicitly felled forest produce which was seized
    under the Andhra Pradesh Forest Act, 1967 till the disposal of a criminal case
    pending before the Metropolitan Magistrate, for offences under the Act. This Court
    upheld the correctness of the view of a Single Judge of the Andhra Pradesh High
    Court in State of AP v PK Mohammad14 and of a Division Bench in Mohd
    14 (1978) 1 APLJ 391
    Section 59
    Appeal from orders under Section 55, 56 or 57 to be made within thirty days to the
    Court to which orders made by such Magistrate are ordinarily appealable. The
    order passed on appeal shall be final.
    Section 60(2)
    When no appeal is preferred under Section 59 or when the appellate court confirms
    order of confiscation of property, such property shall vest in the government, free
    from all encumbrances.
    22
    Yaseen v Forest Range Officer, Flying Squad, Rayachoti15 that the Andhra
    Pradesh Forest Act, 1967 contemplated two procedures, one for the confiscation
    of the goods forming the subject matter of the offence by an Authorised Officer
    under Section 44 (2A)16 and the other for the trial of a person accused of the
    offence so committed under Section 20 or 2917. Explaining the purpose of the
    legislation, this Court noted with approval the view of the High Court in the above
    cases that the provision for confiscation by an Authorised Officer had been
    enacted in public interest to suppress an evil which the legislature wishes to
    avoid:
    “14. We find that a later division bench consisting of
    Kondaiah, C.J. and Punnayya, J. in Mohd Yaseen v. Forest
    Range Officer, Flying Squad, Rayachoti [(1980) 1 ALT 8]
    approved of the view expressed by Jeewan Reddy, J. in P.K.
    Mohammad case [(1978) 1 APLJ 391], and held that the Act
    contemplates two procedures, one for confiscation of goods
    forming the subject-matter of the offence by the Authorized
    Officer under sub-section (2-A) of Section 44 of the Act, and
    the other for trial of the person accused of the offence so
    committed under Section 20 or 29 of the Act. The learned
    Judges held that the Act provides for a special
    machinery for confiscation of illicitly felled timber or
    forest produce by the Authorized Officer under subsection (2-A) of Section 44 enacted in the general public
    interest to suppress the mischief of ruthless exploitation
    of government forests by illicit felling and removal of
    teak and other valuable forest produce.”
    (emphasis supplied)
    15 (1980) 1 ALT 8
    16 “(2-A) Where an Authorized Officer seizes under sub-section (1) any timber or forest produce or where any
    such timber or forest produce is produced before him under sub-section (2) and he is satisfied that a forest
    offence has been committed in respect thereof, he may order confiscation of the timber or forest produce so
    seized or produced together with all tools, ropes, chains, boats or vehicles used in committing such offence.”
    17 Section 20 provides for penalties for trespass or damage in reserved forest and acts prohibited in such
    forest, and Section 29 provides for the power to make rules to regulate the transit possession of timber and other
    forest produce.
    23
    Consequently, the mere fact that there was an acquittal in a criminal trial before a
    Magistrate due to a paucity of evidence would not necessarily result in nullifying
    the order of confiscation passed by an Authorised Officer based on a satisfaction
    that a forest offence had been committed.
    20 In 2002, a two judge Bench of this Court in KA Kunchindammed (supra)
    dealt with the provisions of the Karnataka Forest Act 1963. The issue before the
    Court was whether it is the Authorised Officer under that Act or the Magistrate
    under the CrPC who is vested with the power to order interim release of forest
    produce seized under the Act. Section 7118 contained a savings provision that
    allowed an officer duly empowered by the state government to direct the release
    of property seized under Section 62, which is the property of the government.
    Section 71-G19 provided for the bar of jurisdiction, save and except of the
    Authorised Officer or the Appellate Authority. Interpreting the provisions of the
    Karnataka Forest Act, 1963 this Court held that the law is a special statute.
    Moreover, the non obstante clause gave overriding effect to the legislation as a
    result of which the general power which is vested with the Magistrate under the
    CrPC is taken away. Justice DP Mohapatra, speaking for the Court, held:
    18 “71. Saving of power to release property seized.—Nothing hereinbefore contained shall be deemed to
    prevent any officer empowered in this behalf by the State Government from directing at any time the immediate
    release of any property seized under Section 62, which is not the property of Government, and the withdrawal of
    any charge made in respect of such property.”
    19 “71-G. Bar of jurisdiction in certain cases.—Whenever any timber, ivory, Gulmavu (Machilus Marantha)
    bark, Dalchini bark, Halmaddi (exudation of Ailanthus Malabaricum), canes firewood or charcoal belonging to the
    State Government or any sandalwood, together with any tool, rope, chain, boat, vehicle or cattle used in
    committing any offence is seized under sub-section (1) of Section 62, the authorized officer under Section 71-A or
    the officer specially empowered under Section 71-C or the Sessions Judge hearing an appeal under Section 71-D
    shall have and, notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in this Act or in the Code of Criminal
    Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974) or in any other law for the time being in force, any other officer, court, tribunal or
    authority shall not have, jurisdiction to make orders with regard to the custody, possession, delivery, disposal or
    distribution of such property.”
    24
    “23. The Karnataka Forest Act is a special statute enacted for
    the purpose of preserving the forests and the forest produce
    in the State. The scheme of the Act, as expressed in the
    sections, is to vest power in the Authorized Officers of the
    Forest Department for proper implementation/enforcement of
    the statutory provisions and for enabling them to take
    effective steps for preserving the forests and forest produce.
    For this purpose, certain powers including the power of
    seizure, confiscation and forfeiture of the forest produce
    illegally removed from the forests have been vested
    exclusively in them. The position is made clear by the non
    obstante clause in the relevant provisions giving overriding
    effect to the provisions in the Act over other statutes and
    laws. The necessary corollary of such provisions is that in a
    case where the Authorized Officer is empowered to confiscate
    the seized forest produce on being satisfied that an offence
    under the Act has been committed thereof the general power
    vested in the Magistrate for dealing with interim
    custody/release of the seized materials under CrPC has to
    give way. The Magistrate while dealing with a case of any
    seizure of forest produce under the Act should examine
    whether the power to confiscate the seized forest produce is
    vested in the Authorized Officer under the Act and if he finds
    that such power is vested in the Authorized Officer then he
    has no power to pass an order dealing with interim
    custody/release of the seized material. This, in our view, will
    help in proper implementation of provisions of the special Act
    and will help in advancing the purpose and object of the
    statute. If in such cases power to grant interim
    custody/release of the seized forest produce is vested in the
    Magistrate then it will be defeating the very scheme of the
    Act. Such a consequence is to be avoided.
  2. From the statutory provisions and the analysis made in
    the foregoing paragraphs the position that emerges is that the
    learned Magistrate and the learned Sessions Judge were
    right in holding that on facts and in the circumstances of the
    case, it is the Authorized Officer who is vested with the power
    to pass order of interim custody of the vehicle and not the
    Magistrate.”
    Consequently, in the view of this Court, it is the Authorised Officer who is vested
    with the power to pass an order for interim custody of a seized vehicle and not the
    Magistrate.
    25
    21 Subsequently in 2004 in Sujit Kumar Rana (supra) another two judge
    Bench of this Court dealt with the applicability of Section 482 of the CrPC for
    quashing of proceedings for confiscation of forest produce under the provisions of
    the Indian Forest Act, 1927, as amended in relation to the State of West Bengal.
    Sections 59-A to 59-G20 were inserted in the principal Act by the State
    amendments to inter alia, confer a power of seizure and confiscation and to enact
    a bar of jurisdiction of other courts and tribunals notwithstanding anything
    contained in the CrPC. This Court held:
    “31. Once, however, a confiscation proceeding is initiated; in
    terms of Section 59-G of the Act, the jurisdiction of the
    criminal court in this behalf stands excluded. The criminal
    court although indisputably has the jurisdiction to deal with
    the property which is the subject-matter of offence in terms of
    the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure but once a
    confiscation proceeding is initiated, the said power cannot be
    exercised by the Magistrate.”
    Once the criminal court had no power to deal with the property seized under the
    Act, the High Court was held to have no jurisdiction under Section 482 of the
    CrPC to quash proceedings for confiscation of forest produce.
    20 “59-A. Confiscation by Forest Officer of forest produce in the case of forest offence believed to have
    been committed.—(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the foregoing provisions of this Chapter or in any
    other law for the time being in force, where a forest offence is believed to have been committed in respect of the
    timber or other forest produce which is the property of the State Government, the Forest Officer or the police
    officer seizing the timber or other forest produce under sub-section (1) of Section 52, shall, without any
    unreasonable delay, produce the same, together with all tools, ropes, chains, boats, vehicles and cattle used in
    committing the offence, before an officer of a rank not inferior to that of an Assistant Conservator of Forests,
    authorized by the State Government in this behalf by notification in the Official Gazette (hereinafter referred to as
    the authorized officer).”
    Section 59-B provides the procedure for issue of notice before confiscation. Section 59C provides for a
    revision against the order of confiscation. Section 59D provides a right to appeal against the order of revision.
    Section 59E provides a savings provision for award of punishment under other provision of the Act. Section 59F
    provides that confiscated property and proceeds of sale to vest in Government.
    “Section 59-G. Bar of jurisdiction in certain cases.—Notwithstanding anything to the contrary
    contained in this Act or in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974) or in any other law for the time being
    in force, the officer authorized under Section 59-A or the Forest Officer specially empowered under Section 59-C
    or the District Judge to whom an appeal may be preferred under Section 59-D shall have and any other officer or
    Forest Officer or court, tribunal or authority shall not have jurisdiction to make orders with regard to the custody,
    possession, delivery, disposal or distribution of any property or tools, ropes, chains, boats, vehicles or cattle
    seized under Section 52.”
    26
    22 In 2017, a similar view has been taken by another two judge Bench of this
    Court in Kallo Bai (supra) while construing the provisions of the Madhya Pradesh
    Van Upaj (Vyapar Viniyam) Adhiniyam, 1969. By virtue of the amendments made
    to the Adhiniyam, Sections 15-A to 15-D21 were introduced to provide for
    confiscation proceedings in line with the provisions contained in the Forest Act as
    amended in relation to the State of Madhya Pradesh. Relying on the earlier
    decisions of this Court including GV Sudhakar Rao (supra), Justice NV Ramana,
    speaking for the two judge Bench held:
    “23. Criminal prosecution is distinct from confiscation
    proceedings. The two proceedings are different and parallel,
    each having a distinct purpose. The object of confiscation
    proceeding is to enable speedy and effective adjudication
    with regard to confiscation of the produce and the means
    used for committing the offence while the object of the
    prosecution is to punish the offender. The scheme of the
    Adhiniyam prescribes an independent procedure for
    confiscation. The intention of prescribing separate
    proceedings is to provide a deterrent mechanism and to stop
    further misuse of the vehicle.”
    23 This leaves the Court to deal with a judgment rendered in 2008 by a two
    judge Bench of this Court in State of MP v Madhukar Rao22. The issue in that
    21 Section 15-A provides for an appeal against order of confiscation. Section 15-B. provides for a revision
    before Court of Sessions against order of Appellate Authority.
    “Section 15-C. Bar of jurisdiction of court etc. under certain circumstances.— (1) On receipt of
    intimation under sub-section (5) of Section 15 about initiation of proceedings for confiscation of property by the
    Magistrate having jurisdiction to try the offence on account of which the seizure of property which is subject
    matter of confiscation, has been made, no Court, Tribunal or Authority (other than the authorised officer, Appellate
    Authority and Court of Sessions referred to in Sections 15, 15-A and 15-B as the case may be), shall have
    jurisdiction to make orders with regard to which proceedings for confiscation are initiated under Section 15,
    notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, or, any other law for the time being in force:
    Provided that before passing any order for disposal of property the Magistrate shall satisfy himself that
    no intimation under sub-section (5) of Section 15 has been received by his Court or by any other Court having
    jurisdiction to try the offence on account of which the seizure of property has been made.
    Explanation.—Where under any law for the time being in force, two or more Courts have jurisdiction to
    try offence under this Act, then receipt of intimation under sub-section (5) of Section 15 by one of the Courts of
    Magistrate having such jurisdiction shall be construed to be receipt of intimation under that provision by all the
    Courts and the bar to exercise jurisdiction shall operate on all such Courts.
    (2) Nothing hereinbefore contained shall be deemed to prevent any officer authorised in this behalf by
    the State Government from directing at any time the immediate release of any property seized under Section 15.”
    Section 15-D provides for confiscation of property when the produce is not the property of Government.
    22 (2008) 14 SCC 624
    27
    case was whether upon the seizure of a vehicle or vessel under Section 50(1)(c) 23
    of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, the Magistrate has no power to direct its
    release under Section 451 of the CrPC during the pendency of a trial.
    Significantly, in that case the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 did not
    contain provisions analogous to the MP amendments to the Forest Act or for that
    matter those contained in the state laws noticed in Sudhakar Rao,
    Kunchindammed, Sujit Kumar Rana and Kallo Bai. Section 50 empowered
    the Director or the Chief Wildlife Warden, Forest Officer, Authorised Officer or
    Police Officer, if they had reasonable grounds for believing that any person has
    committed an offence under the Act, to seize a captive or wild animal, animal
    article, meat, trophy etc. together with tools, vehicles, vessels or weapons used
    for the commission of the offence. Under sub section (2) of Section 50, prior to its
    amendment in October 199124, the Assistant Director or Wildlife Warden was
    empowered to release inter alia, a vehicle, vessel or weapon subject to a bond.
    This provision was deleted in 1991 and was substituted25 by a provision for
    23 “Section 50 – Power of entry, search, arrest and detention.- (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in
    any other law for the time being in force, the Director or any other officer authorised by him in this behalf or the
    Chief Wild Life Warden or the authorised officer or any forest officer or any police officer not below the rank of a
    sub-inspector, may, if he has reasonable grounds for believing that any person has committed an offence against
    this Act,-

    (c) seize any captive animal, wild animal, animal article, meat, trophy or uncured trophy, or any specified
    plant or part or derivative thereof, in respect of which an offence against this Act appears to have been
    committed, in the possession of any person together with any trap, tool, vehicle, vessel or weapon used for
    committing any such offence and, unless he is satisfied that such person will appear and answer any charge
    which may be preferred against him, arrest him without warrant, and detain him:
    Provided that where a fisherman residing within ten kilometres of a sanctuary or National Park,
    inadvertently enters on a boat, not used for commercial fishing, in the territorial waters in that sanctuary or
    National Park, a fishing tackle or net on such boat shall not be seized.”
    24 “(2) Any officer of a rank not inferior to that of an Assistant Director of Wild Life preservation of Wild Life
    Warden, who, or whose subordinate has seized any trap, tool, vehicle, vessel or weapon under clause (c) of subsection (1), may release the same on the execution by the owner thereof of a bond for the production of the
    property so released, if and when so required, before the Magistrate having jurisdiction to try the offence on
    account of which the seizure has been made.”
    25 Section 50(2) was deleted post-amendment and replaced with Section 50(3A) as follows:
    “(3A) Any officer of a rank not inferior to that of an Assistant Director of Wild Life Preservation or an
    Assistant Conservator of Forests, who, or whose subordinate, has seized any captive animal or wild animal under
    clause (c) of sub-section (1) may give the same for custody on the execution by any person of a bond for the
    production of such animal if and when so required, before the Magistrate having jurisdiction to try the offence on
    account of which the seizure has been made.”
    28
    handing over custody of a captive animal or wild animal which was seized,
    subject to the execution of a bond for production before a Magistrate of a
    competent jurisdiction. In view of the more limited power of release postamendment, it was urged that Section 50 provided a comprehensive scheme and
    it was not open to the Magistrate to direct interim release of a vehicle seized
    under Section 50. This submission was rejected by the Court, which held that
    Section 50 and other provisions in Chapter VI of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972
    did not exclude the application of the provisions of the CrPC. The decision in
    Kunchindammed was distinguished on the ground that it dealt with the
    provisions of the Karnataka Forest Act 1963 whereas the provisions contained in
    the Wildlife Protection Act were materially different. Consequently, it was held that
    the provisions of Section 50 did not affect the Magistrate’s power to order interim
    release of a vehicle under Section 451 of the CrPC. The decision in Madhukar
    Rao involved legislation which had provisions distinct from the special provisions
    contained in the state amendment to the Forest Act enacted in relation to Madhya
    Pradesh. Indeed, the Court noted the distinction when it dealt with the earlier
    decision in Kunchindammed which arose in the context of the Karnataka Forest
    Act 1963.
    24 In Kailash Chand v State of MP26, a Division Bench of the Madhya
    Pradesh High Court considered a challenge to the constitutional validity of the
    state amendments to the Forest Act through MP Act 25 of 1983. Noticing that a
    criminal prosecution and a proceeding for confiscation are distinct, each with its
    own purpose and object, the High Court held:
    26 (1995) AIR (MP) 1
    29
    “…Criminal prosecution is not an alternative to confiscation
    proceedings. The two proceedings are parallel proceedings,
    each having a distinct purpose and object. The object of
    confiscation proceeding is to enable speedy and effective
    adjudication with regard to confiscation of the produce and
    the means used for committing the offence. The object of the
    prosecution is to punish the offender…”
    Explaining the underlying purpose and object of the state amendment, the
    Division Bench noted:
    “…The scheme of the Central Act contemplating successful
    prosecution of the offender leading to confiscation has been
    drastically modified by the 1983 Act to provide for an
    additional procedure for confiscation, a procedure which is
    less cumbersome and more expeditious than the procedure
    of prosecution and at the same time, assuring necessary
    safeguards to the affected persons. The scheme of the
    Central Act provides for prosecution incidentally leading to
    confiscation of property. The scheme of the amendments
    introduced by the 1983 Act prescribes an independent
    procedure for confiscation. The intention is to ensure that the
    vehicle used in the transaction is no longer available for such
    misuse and to act as deterrent for the other offender and
    others. These objects can be well served by confiscating the
    vehicle…”
    25 In a judgment rendered by one of us (Brother Justice Hemant Gupta as
    Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court) in Ramkumar Sahoo v State
    of Madhya Pradesh27, these principles were followed while construing the
    provisions of Rule 53 of the MP Minor Mineral Rules 1996.
    26 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 produce and of tools, boats,
    vehicles and articles used in the commission of offences. Upon a seizure under
    Section 52(1), the officer effecting the seizure has to either produce the property
    27 Writ Petition No 18818 of 2017 decided on 15 February 2018
    30
    before the Authorised 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 Authorised Officer is empowered, for reasons to be recorded, to confiscate
    the forest produce together with the tools, vehicles, boats and articles used in its
    commission. Before confiscating any property under sub-section (3), the
    Authorised 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 the offence. Where it is intended to immediately launch a
    criminal proceeding, a report of the seizure is made to the Magistrate having
    jurisdiction to try the 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 Authorised 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 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
    31
  3. 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 Authorised Officer initiated
    confiscation proceedings.
    27 The Madhya Pradesh amendments to the Indian Forest Act 1927 are
    infused with a salutary public purpose. Protection of forests against depredation
    is a constitutionally mandated goal exemplified by Article 48A28 of the Directive
    Principles and the Fundamental Duty of every citizen incorporated in Article
    51A(g)29. By isolating the confiscation of forest produce and the instruments
    utilised for the commission of an offence from criminal trials, the legislature
    intended to ensure that confiscation is an effective deterrent. The absence of
    effective deterrence was considered by the Legislature to be a deficiency in the
    legal regime. The state amendment has sought to overcome that deficiency by
    imposing stringent deterrents against activities which threaten the pristine
    existence of forests in Madhya Pradesh. As an effective tool for protecting and
    preserving environment, these provisions must receive a purposive interpretation.
    28 Article 48(A) : “The State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the
    forests and wildlife of the country.”.
    29 Sub-clause (g) of Article 51A provides : “It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve
    the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures.”
    32
    For, it is only when the interpretation of law keeps pace with the object of the
    Legislature that the grave evils which pose a danger to our natural environment
    can be suppressed. The avarice of humankind through the ages has resulted in
    an alarming depletion of the natural environment. The consequences of climate
    change are bearing down on every day of our existence. Statutory interpretation
    must remain eternally vigilant to the daily assaults on the environment.
    28 For the above reasons, we allow the appeal and set aside the impugned
    judgment and order of the High Court dated 29 July 2011 in MCRC 5171 of 2011.
    Criminal Appeal No.525 of 2019 @ SLP (Crl.) No 5413 of 2013:
    29 For the reasons which have been indicated in the judgment delivered today
    in Criminal Appeal @ Special Leave Petition (Crl.) No 2001 of 2012, the judgment
    and order of the High Court dated 7 July 2011 in MCRC No 1818 of 2009 shall
    stand set aside and the appeal is accordingly allowed.
    Criminal Appeal No 1364 of 2012:
    30 For the reasons which have been indicated in the judgment delivered in
    Criminal Appeal @ Special Leave Petition (Crl.) No 2001 of 2012, the judgment
    and order of the High Court dated 7 July 2011 in MCRC No 2634 of 2009 shall
    stand set aside and the appeal is accordingly allowed.
    33
    Criminal Appeal Nos 1362-63 of 2012:
    31 For the reasons which have been indicated in the judgment delivered today
    in Criminal Appeal @ Special Leave Petition (Crl.) No 2001 of 2012, the
    judgments and orders of the High Court dated 7 July 2011 and 21 September
    2011 in MCRC No 1751 of 2009 and MCRC No 5673 of 2011 shall stand set
    aside and the appeals are accordingly allowed.

……………………………………………………J
[Dr Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud]
.….………………………………………………..J
[Hemant Gupta]
New Delhi;
March 26, 2019.