Conviction under NDPS Law but How?

NDPS is indeed a draconian law if not complied scrupulously. The Indian law clearly states that no innocent should be punished rather 100 guilty be acquitted.

Is not just important but mandatory for State Police Authorities and Prosecution to comply essential conditions before Search, Seizure and Arrest of the accused along with the drug under the NDPS act.

Let's see what are they?

1 Police should search accused before gazetted officer at the time of arrest as required under law.

2 Even though the accused consents to such arrest but it is still not satisfactory. As such the accused has no other option before police to sign such memo.

 3 Samples of the drug are mandatory to be drawn by Magistrate under NDPS Act. Then only the form or nature of the drug can be known.

4 The Search cannot take place after sunset though the warrants can be issued by magistrate anytime.

5 Compliance of Section 42(1), 42(2) and Section 50 is a must for conviction under NDPS Act.

6 There should be independent witnesses if the search is made in Public

The law is very settled as per SC judgment; State of Rajasthan vs. Jag Raj Singh @Hansa that non-compliance of mandatory provisions for search and seizure under Narcotics Act (NDPS) vitiates Conviction.        

For quick ready reference the section 41, 42 and 50 are reproduced:

Section 41 in The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985

1[41. Power to issue warrant and authorisation. -

(1) A Metropolitan Magistrate or a Magistrate of the first class or any Magistrate of the second class specially empowered by the State Government in this behalf, may issue a warrant for the arrest of any person whom he has reason to believe to have committed any offence punishable under this Act, or for the search, whether by day or by night, of any building, conveyance or place in which he has reason to believe any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance or controlled substance in respect of which an offence punishable under this Act has been committed or any document or other article which may furnish evidence of the commission of such offence or any illegally acquired property or any document or other article which may furnish evidence of holding any illegally acquired property which is liable for seizure or freezing or forfeiture under Chapter VA of this Act is kept or concealed.

(2) Any such officer of gazetted rank of the departments of central excise, narcotics, customs, revenue intelligence or any other department of the Central Government including the para-military forces or the armed forces as is empowered in this behalf by general or special order by the Central Government, or any such officer of the revenue, drugs control, excise, police or any other department of a State Government as is empowered in this behalf by general or special order of the State Government if he has reason to believe from personal knowledge or information given by any person and taken in writing that any person has committed an offence punishable under this Act or that any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance or controlled substance in respect of which any offence under this Act has been committed or any document or other article which may furnish evidence of the commission of such offence or any illegally acquired property or any document or other article which may furnish evidence of holding any illegally acquired property which is liable for seizure or freezing or forfeiture under Chapter VA of this Act is kept or concealed in any building, conveyance or place, may authorise any officer subordinate to him but superior in rank to a peon, sepoy or a constable to arrest such a person or search a building, conveyance or place whether by day or by night or himself arrest such a person or search a building, conveyance or place.

(3) The officer to whom a warrant under sub-section (1) is addressed and the officer who authorised the arrest or search or the officer who is so authorised under sub-section (2) shall have all the powers of an officer acting under section 42.]

Section 42 in The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985

1[42. Power of entry, search, seizure and arrest without warrant or authorisation. -

(1) Any such officer (being an officer superior in rank to a peon, sepoy or constable) of the departments of central excise, narcotics, customs, revenue intellegence or any other department of the Central Government including para-military forces or armed forces as is empowered in this behalf by general or special order by the Central Government, or any such officer (being an officer superior in rank to a peon, sepoy or constable) of the revenue, drugs control, excise, police or any other department of a State Government as is empowered in this behalf by general or special order of the State Government, if he has reason to believe from persons knowledge or information given by any person and taken down in writing that any narcotic drug, or psychotropic substance, or controlled substance in respect of which an offence punishable under this Act has been committed or any document or other article which may furnish evidence of the commission of such offence or any illegally acquired property or any document or other article which may furnish evidence of holding any illegally acquired property which is liable for seizure or freezing or forfeiture under Chapter VA of this Act is kept or concealed in any building, conveyance or enclosed place, may between sunrise and sunset. -

(a) enter into and search any such building, conveyance or place;

(b) in case of resistance, break open any door and remove any obstacle to such entry;

(c) seize such drug or substance and all materials used in the manufacture thereof and any other article and any animal or conveyance which he has reason to believe to be liable to confiscation under this Act and any document or other article which he has reason to believe may furnish evidence of the commission of any offence punishable under this Act or furnish evidence of holding any illegally acquired property which is liable for seizure or freezing or forfeiture under Chapter VA of this Act; and

(d) detain and search, and, if he thinks proper, arrest any person whom he has reason to believe to have committed any offence punishable under this Act: Provided that if such officer has reason to believe that a search warrant or authorisation cannot be obtained without affording opportunity for the concealment of evidence or facility for the escape of an offender, he may enter and search such building, conveyance or enclosed place at any time between sunset and sunrise after recording the grounds of his belief.

(2) Where an officer takes down any information in writing under sub-section (1) or records grounds for his belief under the proviso thereto, he shall within seventy-two hours send a copy thereof to his immediate official superior.]

Section 50 in The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985

50. Conditions under which search of persons shall be conducted. -

(1) When any officer duly authorised under section 42 is about to search any person under the provisions of section 41, section 42 or section 43, he shall, if such person so requires, take such person without unnecessary delay to the nearest Gazetted Officer of any of the departments mentioned in section 42 or to the nearest Magistrate.

(2) If such requisition is made, the officer may detain the person until he can bring him before the Gazetted Officer or the Magistrate referred to in sub-section (1).

(3) The Gazetted Officer or the Magistrate before whom any such person is brought shall, if he sees no reasonable ground for search, forthwith discharge the person but otherwise shall direct that search be made.

(4) No female shall be searched by anyone excepting a female. 1[(5) When an officer duly authorised under section 42 has reason to believe that it is not possible to take the person to be searched to the nearest Gazetted Officer or Magistrate without the possibility of the person to be searched parting with possession of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance, or controlled substance or article or document, he may, instead of taking such person to the nearest Gazetted Officer or Magistrate, proceed to search the person as provided under section 100 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974).

(6) After a search is conducted under sub-section (5), the officer shall record the reasons for such belief which necessitated such search and within seventy-two hours send a copy thereof to his immediate official superior.]

Few Popular Judgments on this aspect:

  • State of Punjab vs Balbir Singh (1993) 3 SCC 299
  • Gurbax Singh vs. State of Haryana (2001) 3 SCC 28
  • State of HP vs Sunil Kumar AIR 2014 SC 2564
  • M Prabhulal vs Assistant Director AIR 2003 SC 4311

The search has to be in compliance with the mandatory provisions of law i.e. 42 (1), 42(2) and read with Section 50 of NDPS.

 

Published in Criminal Law
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