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Greed Crimes (Stolen Vehicles) Law In Motion – 26: Rupin Sharma IPS

Greed Crimes (Stolen Vehicles) Law In Motion – 26: Rupin Sharma IPS

Kohima, February 10 (NEx): Greed Crimes – Stolen Vehicles is an article in continuation of a series of articles on ‘Law’, written by Shri Rupin Sharma, IPS, to educate people about the process of Law in matters of crime, to create awareness and bridge the gap between law and people.

The topics covered are:

Q11. What does police do if I have stolen vehicle?

Q12. What can be done by public?

Q13. What can I do if police seize the vehicle (stolen)?

Q14. What else happens if vehicle in my possession is seized?

Q15. What are the legal bases for Police action?

Law In Motion – 26: Greed Crimes – Stolen Vehicles

Q11. What does police do if I have stolen vehicle?

Ans- If the police come to a conclusion that you are in possession of stolen vehicle; they may do any or all of the following: –

(i) Obtain a search/seizure warrant from court of your premises;

(ii) Obtain a warrant of arrest non-bailable from court;

(iii) Either the police team form the police where FIR was registered may knock at your door to seize the vehicle and/ or arrest you;

(iv) May request the police of the area where you reside to recover/ seize the vehicle and keep it in custody till they turn up to take custody;

(v) Request the local police to locate the stolen vehicle and the premises where it is kept;

(vi) Whether it is the ‘other’ police or ‘local’ police, it is not essential for them to always have a search or arrest warrant. They are within their rights to search/ seize and arrest without warrants if the police is satisfied that quick action is required and delay will be harmful to the case;

(vii) If the police take custody-seize the stolen vehicle, they would prepare a seizure memo in front of two independent witnesses and ask you to
sign on it too. A copy of seizure memo would be given to you;

(viii) If you insist, they may even be able to provide you the FIR reference in which the vehicle was reported as stolen. However, in today’s context, besides an FIR copy, verification from CCTNS or Vahan Samanvay may also be adequate and sufficient;

Briefly, if you end up buying a vehicle which may have been a stolen property, at the very minimum, you will be dispossessed. The chances of your recovery any money from the seller (the thief or his associates or intermediaries) is MINIMUM. You may think you have defrauded or cheated but remember – your greed led you into the trap.

Q12. What can be done by public?

Ans: – The simplest answers are AVOID GREED and WAIT. Let me explain a bit.

If you are getting a deal which is too good to be true – a “Dream Deal” on a USED CAR – whether it is a second hand or a third hand one, it indeed is probably NOT TRUE. It is a TRAP. It is your greed – to save money. By NOT BEING CAUTIOUS OR PRUDENT it will bring about your downfall. Whether the criminals work alone or as gangs in this business, they would want to make a quick moolah and want to pass on the proceeds of crime to others quickly. They need to dispose-off of the vehicles quickly – for the fear of getting caught red handed with vehicles. They are more
desperate than you are and would even mind giving you a ‘good discount’ besides the ‘offer price.’ It is up to you to see through this ploy.

A closer inspection of the vehicle or its papers or the engine/chassis number may reveal tell-tale signs of tampering. Therefore, avoid the temptation to buy cheap and used car. Secondly, the more you delay at deal, the more desperation on the part of the ‘seller thief’. Delaying the deal would make him uncomfortable. I’m sure one can find 10 reasons for delaying a final deal.

Thirdly, as I mentioned above, all police stations are supposed to (at least theoretically) lodge FIRs and enter the details in the CCTNS and Vahan Samanvay. This however takes some time. One should therefore buy time for a deal to be sealed. Again, sometimes the police merely makes GDEs first and only lodges FIRs slightly later.

Consequently, the vehicle details get reflected in the CCTNS and Samanvay quite late. This again is a pointer that a ‘final deal’ for a ‘used car’ should be delayed. If a deal is delayed by 8 to 10 days of the initial offer, you are allowing yourself a greater probability of getting a more authentic result from the Samanvay data base.

However, if the police stations have merely kept the complaints of stolen vehicles as GDEs or as loose sheets, GOD SAVE US. The thief would never have been recorded/ reflected or searchable/retrievable. Besides the Samanvay data base, it may also be prudent to examine the vehicle papers and check from various data bases and query them by registration numbers or chassis numbers or engine numbers besides model numbers/ date of manufacture to ascertain whether the details match with those on the papers being produced by the sellers.

Next comes the registration. Insist on the final payment only being made once the vehicle RC has been transferred in your name. The RTO offices are also connected to the Vahan and Vahn Samnvay data bases and before allowing a ‘used car’ to be re-registered, they usually check from the original RTO where the vehicle was initially registered. This process can take 7-21 days and is your final default safeguard. The RTO would only allow registration once he gets an NOC. If he does not get the NOC, YOU ARE SAFE, if he gets one YOU ARE SAFE again.

Last but not the least, insist on making a payment by means other than cash. Cash is the most dangerous as it leaves no trial of evidence. If you pay through cheque or card or bank transfer or even by internet banking or say paytm or Google pay etc, you are making sure that the recipient is traceable and can be caught. You have exercised prudence.

Q13. What can I do if police seize the vehicle (stolen)?

Ans: – Very little. Bad luck to you.
Once police are convinced or has information that you are in a possession of a stolen vehicle, and it wants to seize it, it is better not to resist. At best you can ask them for details of the FIR lodged by the police-whether in Nagaland or elsewhere. It really does not matter whether you are the first owner after the theft or the vehicle has changed hand multiple times. If you resist, you could land up in greater trouble – for opposing a public servant from discharging his legal duty.

Q14. What else happens if vehicle in my possession is seized?

Ans: – All or some of the following may happen: –

(i) Police takes the vehicle away;

(ii) Police seizes the vehicle (on paper) but leaves it behind till the time they can make arrangements for its removal from your possession

(iii) Police will prepare a seizure memo, mentioning the details in the ‘seizure memo’ and hand-over a copy to you too. While usually the seizure memo is prepared on the spot, sometimes, the police may ask you to visit the police station so that they can make other cross- references and entries in police station records;

(iv) The police may interrogate you to ascertain how the vehicle landed up in your hands. This is required to investigate whether the crime/criminal have other linkages or tentacles. When police take your statement, you are not required to sign it. Do not sign it too.

Depending on whether the ‘outside police’ is accompanying the local police or not, the police would also initiate measures at its end to inform their counterparts or insurance companies or even the RTOs concerned.

Q15. What are the legal bases for Police action?

Ans:- In very simple terms, the police, during the course of investigation has
powers under section 166 of CrPC to search or cause another police officer
to ‘search whenever or if he feels that a ‘search might result in evidence of
the commission of an offence being concealed or destroyed’. The stolen
vehicle, may in this case be construed as evidence.

Besides this, action, where a search warrant may not be required, the DM
or SDM or magistrate may also issue a search warrant for a premise which
may contain stolen property or forged documents (Section 94 of CrPC).
Section 94 (I) (c) also allows the police officers above the rank of a constable
‘to take possession of any property or objectionable article’.

The Section 94(I) (e) also permits the police to take into custody before
magistrate every person found in such place who may have been privy to such (stolen property deal) also.

To be Continued…..

By Rupin Sharma IPS