Gone are the days when vehicles seized under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act rusted away in various excise offices.
An amendment to the Act reflected in Section 52A, which was effective from 2015, though was not fully enforced till now owing to various implementation-related ambiguities, has finally kicked in, enabling law enforcement agencies to encash such vehicles and add revenue to the government exchequer.
The Excise Department in Ernakulam has put up the first lot of such vehicles — three scooters seized in NDPS cases — for auction subject to the approval of the district-level disposal committee comprising the deputy excise commissioner, assistant excise commissioner, and a squad excise circle inspector.
“They have been listed in the portal of the State-owned e-commerce company Metal Scrap Trading Corporation (MSTC) Limited and anyone from any part of the country can participate in the auction and secure the vehicles on sending in a demand draft for the auction amount. The proceeds will be deposited with the court concerned, which will take a call on it at the end of the trial,” senior Excise Department officials said. The department will organise an offline auction for vehicles that have no online takers.
Earlier such vehicles could not be sold off till the completion of the trial that could have gone on for years during the course of which they had to be kept in excise offices concerned, which hardly have had space even otherwise. Besides, by the time the long-winding trials meandered to completion many of these vehicles would have rusted away, leading to waste of potential revenue to the government.
“Some courts used to give the vehicle owner its interim custody till the higher courts intervened and stopped that practice,” said Mr. Kumar.
In contrast, no such restrictions were applicable in the case of vehicles seized under Abkari Act even previously as they could be sold off even amidst the trial either online or offline. The department used to conduct offline auctions of such vehicles like the latest one involving 35 vehicles set to be held at Mamala excise range office on November 19 in compliance with COVID protocol.
The Excise Department in the district seizes, on an average, 15 vehicles in a month under both Abkari Act and NDPS Act.