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Total Non-Compliance Of Section 42 Of The NDPS Act Is Impermissible

Sai Krishna ,
  23 May 2022       Share Bookmark

Court :
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
Brief :

Citation :
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.421 OF 2021

CaseTitle:
Boota Singh & Others Vs State Of Haryana

Date:
April 16, 2021

Bench:
JUSTICE Uday Umesh Lalit
JUSTICE K.M. Joseph

Parties:
Appellant – BOOTA SINGH & OTHERS
Respondent – STATE OF HARYANA

Subject

An appeal was filed challenging the judgment and final order passed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana convicting and sentencing the appellants under Section 15 of NDPS Act while not complying with Section 42 of The NDPS Act.

Important Provisions

Section 15 of The NDPS Act – Punishment for contravention in relation to poppy straw.

Section 42 of The NDPS Act –Power of entry, search, seizure and arrest without warrant or authorisation. The information so received must be recorded in writing.

Section 43 of The NDPS Act – Power of seizure and arrest in public place.

Overview

  • Officials present at Canal Bridge received a secret information that the accused were selling poppy straw in a jeep bearing registration GUD-4997.
  • Two bags of poppy straw were found and the co accused of the appellants managed to slip away from the scene.
  • The jeep and poppy straw were taken into possession.
  • The Inspector Nand Lal on examination in chief stated that he had not recorded the secret information in writing neither had obtained any search warrants.
  • The trial court after considering the evidences convicted Boota Singh, Gurdeep Singh and Gurmohinder Singh (appellants) under section 15 of the NDPS Act and was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment and fine.
  • The learned counsel for the accused had sought acquittal before the High Court due to the non-compliance of section 42 of the NDPS Act.
  • The acquittal was denied stating that it would be covered under Section 43 of the NDPS Act since it was in a public place.
  • The convicted accused thereon went for an appeal challenging the decision made by the High Court.

Issues raised

  1. Whether non-compliance of Section 42 of the NDPS Act makes the conviction of the appellant invalid in nature?
  2. Whether the seizure of a private vehicle at a public place comes under the ambit of Section 42 of the NDPS Act?

Arguments advanced by the Appellants

  • The vehicle was a private vehicle and not a public conveyance.
  • Secret information was not recorded by the inspector as per the law.
  • The case would come under Section 42 of the NDPS Act and not Section 43, thereby the appellants should be acquitted with respect to the cases of Karnail Singh Vs. State of Haryana, Sukhdev Singh Vs. State of Haryana and State of Rajasthan vs. Jagraj Singh alias Hansa.

Arguments advanced by the Respondents

The learned counsel for respondents agreed with the decisions of the High Court and stated that the case would come under the purview of Section 43 of the NDPS Act. However, agreed that the vehicle was not a public conveyance.

Judgment Analysis

  • The court stated that the vehicle belonged to Gurdeep Singh and was clearly not a public conveyance.
  • With the respect to the Case of Jagraj Singh alias Hansa it was made clear that in Section 43 a private vehicle would not come within the expression of public place thereby in the current scenario the provision would be Section 42 of the NDPS Act and not Section 43 of the NDPS Act.
  • The total non-compliance of Section 42 was admitted by the inspector during the examination.
  • Total non-compliance of Section 42 of the NDPS Act was unacceptable as decided by the court in Karnail Singh and Jagraj Singh alias Hansa.

Conclusion

The court allowed the appeal and set aside the decision taken by the High Court stating that total non-compliance of Section 42 of the NDPS Act was impermissible. The appellants were acquitted from the charges levied against them.

Click here to download the original copy of the judgement

 
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