HYDERABAD: The Telangana High Court made it clear on Friday that the police have no powers to seize or detain a vehicle from its driver or rider who is in an intoxicated condition.
Justice K. Lakshaman found fault with the police for detaining vehicles for days together and not releasing the same even after the drivers produced certificate of registration, identity proof and driving licenses.
The court also issued guidelines to be followed by the police before taking custody of vehicles. The judge criticised the approach of the state government in building pressure on both the excise and the police departments to collect more revenue by way of sale of liquor as well as imposition of challans during ‘drunk and drive’. The approach of the government was not appreciable, Justice Lakshman said.
The Judge made it clear that the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act and other governing provisions did not permit either to seize or detain the vehicle from the person who consumed alcohol. The Judge was dealing with a batch of around 40 petitions, who had approached the High Court complaining about the detainment of their vehicles, when they were traced out in a drunk and drive check.
The petitioners drew the attention of the court that it had previously held that under the MV Act, police officers did not have power to take custody of the vehicle driven under the influence of alcohol and directed the authorities who had custody of vehicles in question to release the same on production of certificate of registration relating to the said vehicle and on production of proof of identity and also a valid driving license.
Despite the orders, police officers were taking custody of the vehicles, the counsels for petitioners argued. Home department counsel Srikanth Reddy said once the police found a person driving the vehicle in an intoxicated condition and there was no other person to drive the vehicle, the police were seizing the vehicle. The vehicle is released either to the owner of the vehicle or an authorised person on producing proper proof of identification.
He said police officers did not have the power to detain or seize a vehicle from a person who drove it in an intoxicated condition. Further, he said the police had been taking all necessary steps to decrease the death rates caused by road accidents.
Issuing a set of guidelines and directives, Justice Lakshman made it clear that their breach would amount to contempt and necessary proceedings would be initiated against the police officials concerned.
The Telangana High Court issued directions and guidelines to be followed by the police with regard to vehicles being driven by intoxicated persons.
* If the driver/rider of the vehicle is under the influence of alcohol, he/she should not be allowed to drive the vehicle. If the police find other person who is not intoxicated and has a valid driving licence accompanying the intoxicated driver/rider, shall permit such person to drive the vehicle without seizing the vehicle.
* If there is no other person, the police officer or the intoxicated driver should inform a relative or friend to take custody of the vehicle.
* If no one comes to take custody of the vehicle, the police official should temporarily take possession of the vehicle and keep it at the nearest police station or any other appropriate place. It should not be seized.
* The vehicle should be released to the owner or any authorised person on production of certificate of registration (RC), proof of identity and a valid driving licence.
* If the police come to a conclusion that prosecution of the driver or owner or both is necessary, the officer should file a charge sheet before the magistrate within three days.
* The vehicle will be released by the officer who detained it after prosecution is complete. Magistrates are directed to receive the charge sheets within three days from the date of seizure....