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Omana Amma v. State of Kerala

  • Order

Abkari (Disposal of Confiscated Articles) Rules, 1996 (Kerala) – Rule 4(2)(a – Security deposite for temporary custody of the vehicle the confiscating authority can confiscate only the value of the vehicle and the vehicle itself. The Rule will not permit the concerned authority to appropriate the interest accrued to the amount deposited.

A vehicle is released under Rule 4(2)(a) temporarily subject to the final decision in the confiscation proceedings. The deposit mentioned in Rule 4(2)(a) is only to see that the value of the vehicle is secured even if the vehicle is lost subsequently. It is only a security amount. Once the vehicle is produced as per Rule 4(3)(a), the department is only entitled the difference of market value and the vehicle. The confiscating authority is not entitled the interest accrued for the amount deposited under Rule 4(2)(a). Rule 4(2)(a) is only a temporary measure. The deposit of the amount is for the purpose of the confiscating authority as a security and also for the purpose of the petitioner. If the confiscating authority finally found that the vehicle need not be confiscated, the petitioner is entitled the entire amount with interest. But if the confiscation order is passed, the authority can retain only the difference of the market value and the vehicle. The appropriation of the interest, according to me will be an unjust enrichment by the State, which cannot be allowed. Therefore, according to me, the petitioner is entitled the balance amount of the difference between the two market value with the interest accrued for the amount deposited as per Rule 4(2)(a). The Government Pleader submitted that the petitioner was using the vehicle till it was surrendered and therefore the State is is entitled the interest portion. The Government Pleader submitted that when it is produced, the vehicle is not road worthy and therefore, the State is entitled interest. I cannot agree with the same. As per the Rules, the confiscating authority can confiscate only the value of the vehicle and the vehicle itself. The Rule will not permit the concerned authority to appropriate the interest accrued to the amount deposited. Admittedly there is no specific rule authorising the authority to appropriate the interest accrued for the deposit as per Rule 4(2)(a).

Legal Maxim – “Nemo Debet Locupletari ex Aliena Jactura” means no one should be enriched by another’s loss.

In this case, without any statutory backing, the respondents have no authority to keep the interest accrued for the amount deposited as per Rule 4(2)(a). In such circumstances, the petitioner is entitled the interest accrued along with the balance amount.

Citations : 2021 (4) KCC 126 : 2021 (4) KHC 351 : 2021 (4) KLT 634