January 2020: In Mohammad Babar v The State Of Bihar, a 3-Judge Bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Karol, Justices Anil Kumar Upadhyay and K.C. Jha on 14 January, 2020, the Court reiterated its earlier orders. It observed "It is continued practice of this Court that in cases of drunken driving; no recovery from the vehicle; recovery of less than commercial quantity; where ex-facie, vehicle is not liable to be confiscated; where there is inordinate delay in initiating proceedings for confiscation of the vehicle etc., this Court has been directing the State to provisionally release vehicle/property, subject to initiation/conclusion/finalisation of the confiscatory proceedings, as the case may be" in the matter of offences punishable under the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016.
It was hoped that this order authored by the Chief Justice will help in curbing the indiscriminate use of the provisions of Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016 without application of legal mind by police officials.
Despite this order of January 2020, the 3-Judge Bench headed by Chief Justice had reiterate his order once again in Sheetal Sahu v The State Of Bihar on 12 October, 2020. It observed: "Be that as it may, at this point in time, we Patna High Court CWJC No.8483 of 2020 dt.12-10-2020 refrain from passing any order under the contempt jurisdiction, but direct the Chief Secretary, Government of Bihar, to file his personal affidavit dealing with each one of the issues highlighted (supra) as also elaborately indicating the mechanism which the State has or desires to evolve so as to prevent the litigants from directly approaching the Court for release of the vehicle and also ensuring early completion of the proceedings, be it confiscatory in nature or in an appellate jurisdiction, under the provisions of the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016."
The Court further observed that "Learned counsel for the State undertakes to communicate the order to all concerned, including the District Magistrate and no certified copy of the order shall be required to be placed on the file of proceedings pending or initiated under the Act, for such order is available on the official website of the High Court & can be downloaded and/or verified from there, in the times of current Pandemic Covid-19. We only hope and expect that the Authorities under the Act shall take appropriate action at the earliest and in accordance with law, within the time schedule fixed, failing which the vehicle/property/things liable for confiscation shall be Patna High Court CWJC No.8483 of 2020 dt.12-10-2020 deemed to have been released without any further reference to this Court." The CWJC No. 8483 refers to Sheetal Sahu case. It is apparent that repeated order of the High Court is not being implemented by the police officials.