Applicability of Section 50 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act is valid only in the case of Personal Search: Supreme Court

Team SoOLEGAL 18 Sep 2020 3:22pm

Applicability of Section 50 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act is valid only in the case of Personal Search: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court, while affirming the conviction of priest upheld the applicability of Section 50 of the Narcotics Drugs & Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 ['NDPS Act' or 'Act'], which is only applicable in the case of a personal search.

The claims submitted by the appellant in the appeal concerned the failure to comply with Section 50 of the NDPS Act. The appellant was convicted for the offence under Section 20 of the NDPS Act for being in possession of 13 kg of charas.  However, the Trial Court noted that samples were handed over to an officer who sent the sample to another officer for taking it to the Central Laboratory in Delhi, raises concerns over the tampering of the evidence. However, the High Court of Himachal later set aside the orders of the Sessions Court and found the accused guilty pursuant to Section 20 of the Act.

The court referred the judgment of State of Himachal Pradesh v Pawan Kumar, Appeal (crl.)  222 of 1997, where it was held that Section 50 of the Act does not apply when the contraband was allegedly recovered from the bag, briefcase or any such article or container etc that the accused was carrying. “There is no warrant or justification for giving an extended meaning to the word "person" occurring in the same provision so as to include even some bag, article or container or some other baggage being by him.", it was held in that case.

The court determined that the evidence on record demonstrated that the dhaba counter, which had been constructed on the land owned by his wife near the temple and the charas had been found in the dhaba counter in a gunny bag. The facts of the case indicate that the appellant not only had direct physical control over Charas, but also had knowledge of its existence and character. 

However, the bench comprising of Justice Ashok Bhushan, Justice R. Subhash Reddy, and Justice M.R. Shah while taking into account the fact that the incident happened in 2001 and that the accused claimed to be a priest in the temple, who now is 65 years old, revised the sentence from 15 years of strict imprisonment to 10 years of imprisonment.

Tagged: Supreme Court   Narcotic Drugs   Psychotropic Substances Act   Section 50   NDPS Act   Himachal High Court   Sessions Court   Justice Ashok Bhushan   Justice R. Subhash Reddy   Justice M.R. Shah  
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