SC:Conviction u/NDPS Act can’t be Established Only on Basis of Co-Accused’s Confession

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August 01, 2018

Case name: Surinder Kumar Khanna v. Intelligence Office Directorate of Revenue Intelligence

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In this case, the Appellant was convicted by the High Court under the NDPS Act on the basis of confession of co-accused in drug trafficking case. The Supreme Court however reversed the High Court’s verdict holding that the Appellant could not be convicted solely on the basis of confession made by the co-accused.

In the case, the accused were involved in drug racket case and during their investigation, the two accused took the Appellant’s name. Thereafter, the Appellant was arrested and a supplementary complaint was presented against him.

The Appellant was convicted by the High Court under Section 21(c) read with Section 29 of the NDPS Act (this provision envisages punishment for person who abets crime under the NDPS Act) and was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for 12 years and to pay a fine of Rs.1 lakh.

Aggrieved by the High Court’s verdict, the Appellant approached the Supreme Court, whereby he contended that apart from statements made by co-accused there was nothing on record to indicate the involvement of the appellant.

Bench’s Verdict

  • The Two-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court acquitted the Appellant and made the following observations in the case:
  • That there is no provision in the NDPS Act which makes such confession admissible against a co-accused. That in the present case that apart from the aforesaid statements of co-accused there exists no material suggesting involvement of the appellant in the crime in question.
  • That such a confessional statement of a co-accused cannot by itself be taken as a substantive piece of evidence against another co-accused and can at best be used or utilized in order to lend assurance to the Court.
  • That in the absence of any substantive evidence it would be inappropriate to base the conviction of the appellant purely on the statements of co-accused.

The entire case can be accessed here.

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