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NARCOTIC DRUGS AND PSYCHOTROPIC ACT AND INDEPENDENT WITNESSES




INTRODUCTION

The Supreme Court with respect to the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985(henceforth NDPS Act) held that the law does not require only an independent witness to prove the said provision. The bench hearing the matter consisted of Justice M M Sundresh and Justice Aravind Kumar observed that the appellant was found guilty of an offense under section 15 of the NDPS Act by the trial court and the High court for the possession of poppy husk weighing 54 kilograms. The case being:

JAGWINDER SINGH V. STATE OF PUNJAB, CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.2027 OF 2012


CASE ANALYSIS:

FACTS: The appellant with others was found to own a poppy husk amounting to 54 kilograms. The goods were recovered from the car in which the appellant was traveling. Hence when the goods were seized under the perusal of section 15 of the NDPS Act, orders have been received from the Judicial Magistrate to de-seal the said contraband and the samples have been sent for examination. The act states that:

1[15. Punishment for contravention in relation to poppy straw. Whoever, in contravention of any provisions of this Act or any rule or order made or condition of a license granted thereunder, produces, possesses, transports, imports inter-State, exports inter-State, sells, purchases, uses or omits to warehouse poppy straw or removes or does any act in respect of warehoused poppy straw shall be punishable, —

(a) where the contravention involves a small quantity, with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with a fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees or with both;

(b) where the contravention involves quantity lesser than commercial quantity but greater than small quantity, with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years and with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees;

(c) where the contravention involves commercial quantity, with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than ten years but which may extend to twenty years and shall also be liable to fine which shall not be less than one lakh rupees but which may extend to two lakh rupees: Provided that the court may, for reasons to be recorded in the judgment, impose a fine exceeding two lakh rupees.]


ARGUMENTS FROM THE APPELLANT: The appellant submitted that the he was not in conscious possession of the contraband, also the CFCL form was not filled at the place of recovery. The appellant also submitted that the only witnesses to have been examined were police and henceforth in the absence of any independent witness the appellant should not have been convicted.

ARGUMENTS FROM THE STATE:   The state submitted that that all submissions have been accepted by both courts and the appellant is liable to be convicted.


JUDGEMNT: The Supreme court stated that the law does not require only an independent witness to prove a charge attracting the provisions of NDPS Act. As stated by the lower courts, there a procedural compliance with regards to the arrest, seizure and recovery of the contraband. The Apex court also stated that the non-fulfillment of the CFCL form does not vitiate the case as it is a part of procedural law. Also, with regards to the delay in the sending of the sample for FSL report, the court contended that this delay was not fatal to the case made by the prosecution. The appellant was held liable for 10 years of rigorous imprisonment. The duration of the punishment was given by the trial court. 


CONCLUSION 

In conclusion, in the case of Jagwinder Singh V. State of Punjab, the Supreme court held the appellant liable for the possession of poppy husk. The bench comprising of Justice M M Sundresh and Aravind Kumar, emphasized that the law does not mandate the presence of an independent witness exclusively to substantiate charges under the NDPS Act. The court also dismissed the appellant’s argument of the non-completion of the CFCL form, deeming it a procedural aspect that does not hamper the case of the prosecution. This can also be said for the delay in FSL report. The appellant’s conviction for the possession of the contraband and imposed 10- year rigorous imprisonment.


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