Thrissur: A total of 36,768 vehicles confiscated or recovered in connection with various cases are lying idle at police stations in Kerala.
There are as many as 13,308 unclaimed vehicles that have been parked in the open for five or more years, battling harsh weather and gathering dust and rust.
The district-wise breakup of the data showed that Malappuram (9867) has the highest number of unclaimed vehicles while the lowest is in Wayanad (467).
As per the directions of the director general of police (DGP) a few months ago, the department has initiated actions to avoid dumping of confiscated vehicles on station premises or by the adjacent roadside. The DGP also instructed district police chiefs to submit a detailed data categorizing the seized vehicles lying in their custody.
As per official data compiled till September 31, most of the unclaimed vehicles are those confiscated in connection with criminal offenses such as sand or narcotics smuggling or those found abandoned and stolen ones.
There are also vehicles that have been involved in accidents, with cases pending before motor vehicle claims tribunal, and impounded by Motor Vehicles and Excise departments for various offenses.
The majority of these vehicles are lorries, jeeps, cars, autorickshaws and two-wheelers. Apart from those listed as material evidence in cases that are under trial, these vehicles are auctioned at regular intervals to free up spaces on station premises.
It is the responsibility of station house officers to keep a record of these seized vehicles and take the necessary action to dispose them off.
In most cases, the owners are disinterested to take the seized vehicle back despite repeated reminders. The value of the vehicle is determined by the Motor Vehicles Department based on the vehicle’s condition at the time of confiscation and it will be normally higher than the market value. As the deteriorated condition of the vehicles diminishes its value, and for all practical purposes, the owner would not be interested in reclaiming the vehicle by paying a hefty fine.
The police are now forced to turn a blind eye to minor violations of law, pre-empting the eventuality of having to look after the confiscated vehicles. The police department, being the custodians of the recovered vehicles, is responsible for properly maintaining them till the court settles the case.
As per rule, a seized vehicle should be returned in the condition in which it was found at the time of confiscation. So, the respective police station has to house these vehicles on its premises to keep an eye on them.
The state government is mooting to frame a statutory law to find a permanent solution to dispose of the seized vehicles corroding in the compounds of the state’s police stations.
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