The Supreme Court in a matter relating to the NDPS (Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances) Act, 1985 has acquitted the persons saying that there was serious doubt about the prosecution’s case that the substance recovered was contraband.

The two-Judge Bench of Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice Rajesh Bindal held, “… the act of PW¬2 of drawing samples from all the packets at the time of seizure is not in conformity with what is held by this Court in the case of Mohanlal. This creates a serious doubt about the prosecution’s case that the substance recovered was contraband. … in our view, the case of the prosecution is not free from suspicion.”

The Bench said that the prosecution has not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the appellants were in possession of the contraband or that they brought the contraband to the hotel room of the accused.

Senior Advocate Sushil Kumar Jain appeared on behalf of the appellant while ASG Sanjay Jain appeared on behalf of the respondent.

In this case, an appeal was preferred by the accused in a case wherein a bag containing a narcotic substance was found which was seized and the narcotic substance found was 5.067 kilograms of heroin. The Trial Court convicted the accused for the offences punishable under Section 8(c) read with Sections 21(c), 27A, 28, and Section 29 of the NDPS Act and he was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of 11 years and to pay a fine of Rs.1 lakh.

In appeal, while confirming the conviction, the Madras High Court reduced the sentence of the accused to ten years and the default sentence was reduced to one month. The other two accused were convicted for different offences punishable under the NDPS Act.

The Supreme Court in view of the aforesaid facts noted, “ We may note here that accused no.4 has been convicted by the High Court only for the offence punishable under Section 30 of the NDPS Act which is for the offence of making preparation to do or omitting to do anything which constitutes an offence punishable under the provisions of Sections 19, 24 and 27A. The prosecution has not produced any evidence to show that the contraband was brought to the room of the accused no.4 by the other three accused persons or anyone of them. It is not the case that the room of accused no.4 was in possession of accused nos.1 to 3 who were staying in different hotels.”

The Court said that it cannot sustain the conviction of the accused. Accordingly, the Apex Court allowed the appeals, set aside the judgments, and acquitted the accused.

Cause Title- Bothilal v. The Intelligence Officer Narcotics Control Bureau

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