NDPS Act – Supreme Court Ruling on Establishing offence under Section 18

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August 18, 2018

In this recent case, the Supreme Court Bench has held that for establishing offence under Section 18 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 , mere oral evidence to establish seizure of contraband substances from the accused is not sufficient evidence.

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Case name: Mohinder Singh v. State of Punjab

In the case, the High Court convicted the appellant under Section 18 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985  (NDPS Act). The Court held that recovery of contraband from a bag which the accused was carrying in his hands, would not amount to search of person and as such Section 50 of the NDPS Act will not apply.

Also read NDPS Act: To Search Accused before Gazetted Officer/ Magistrate is Mandatory Requirement

Also read Court Acquits Accused as Official didn’t Comply with Section 50 of NDPS Act

The Appellant in the case challenged the High Court’s order on the ground that since the contraband alleged to have been seized from the accused was not produced before the trial court, conviction of the appellant could not be sustained.

Bench’s Verdict

The Supreme Court in the case acquitted the Appellant and made the following observations in the case:

 

  • The Court noted that the appellant was carrying around seven Kilos of “opium” in the bag in the scooter. The Apex Court thus observed that carrying the contraband in the scooter/bag cannot be said to be ‘by the person’ necessitating compliance of Section 50 of the NDPS Act for personal search.
  • In view of the facts and circumstances of the case, the Supreme Court held that in the absence of Magistrate’s order showing that the contraband seized from the accused was produced before the Magistrate, the oral evidence adduced that the contraband was produced before the Magistrate could not form the basis to record the conviction.
  • The Supreme Court also held in the case that for proving the offence under the NDPS Act, it is necessary for the prosecution to establish that the quantity of the contraband goods allegedly seized from the possession of the accused and the best evidence would be the court records as to the production of the contraband before the Magistrate and deposit of the same before the Malkhana or the document showing destruction of the contraband.

 

  • Reference was also made to the case of Vijay Jain v. State of Madhya Pradesh, this Court reiterated the necessity of production of contraband substances seized from the accused before the trial court to establish that the contraband substances seized from the accused tallied with the samples sent to the FSL. It was held that mere oral evidence to establish seizure of contraband substances from the accused is not sufficient.

The entire case can be accessed here.