13. Petitioners have submitted that information with regard to all insured vehicles in the country is available with the Insurance Information Bureau created by IRDA. This information could be utilised to assist the police to identify the insurer of the vehicle. Upon recovery of the vehicle in police station, insurer/ complainant can call an All India Toll Free No. to be provided by Insurance Information Bureau to give the information of the recovered vehicle. Thereafter, the insured vehicle database would be searched to identify the respective insurer. Upon such identification, this information can be communicated to the respective insurer and concerned police stations for necessary coordination.
14. In our considered opinion, the aforesaid information is required to be utilised and followed scrupulously and has to be given positively as and when asked for by the Insurer. We also feel, it is necessary that in addition to the directions issued by this Court in Sunderbhai Ambalal Desai (supra) considering the mandate of Section 451 read with Section 457 of the Code, the following further directions with regard to seized vehicles are required to be given.
“(A) Insurer may be permitted to move a separate application for release of the recovered vehicle as soon as it is informed of such recovery before the Jurisdictional Court. Ordinarily, release shall be made within a period of 30 days from the date of the application. The necessary photographs may be taken duly authenticated and certified, and a detailed panchnama may be prepared before such release.(B) The photographs so taken may be used as secondary evidence during trial. Hence, physical production of the vehicle may be dispensed with.(C) Insurer would submit an undertaking/guarantee to remit the proceeds from the sale/auction of the vehicle conducted by the Insurance Company in the event that the Magistrate finally adjudicates that the rightful ownership of the vehicle does not vest with the insurer. The undertaking/guarantee would be furnished at the time of release of the vehicle, pursuant to the applcation for release of the recovered vehicle. Insistence on personal bonds may be dispensed with looking to the corporate structure of the insurer.”
15. It is a matter of common knowledge that as and when vehicles are seized and kept in various police stations, not only they occupy substantial space of the police stations but upon being kept in open, are also prone to fast natural decay on account of weather conditions. Even a good maintained vehicle loses its road worthiness if it is kept stationary in the police station for more than fifteen days. Apart from the above, it is also a matter of common knowledge that several valuable and costly parts of the said vehicles are either stolen or are cannibalised so that the vehicles become unworthy of being driven on road. To avoid all this, apart from the aforesaid directions issued hereinabove, we direct that all the State Governments/ Union Territories/Director Generals of Police shall ensure macro implementation of the statutory provisions and further direct that the activities of each and every police stations, especially with regard to disposal of the seized vehicles be taken care of by the Inspector General of Police of the concerned Division/Commissioner of Police of the concerned cities/ Superintendent of Police of the concerned district.
16. In case any non-compliance is reported either by the Petitioners or by any of the aggrieved party, then needless to say, we would be constrained to take a serious view of the matter against an erring officer who would be dealt with iron hands.