The Indian judiciary is an important pillar of criminal Justice System. Various Judgments pronounced on different aspects take form of case laws and become the guiding force for the law enforcement agencies. Eg. Recent landmark Judgment by the Hon’ble Apex Court in state of Kerala vs. Rajesh where the Hon’ble Court has cited twin condition for releasing accused on bail in NDPS matters has a bearing effect on enforcement of NDPS Act and prosecution.
Conviction cannot be based solely on co-accused’s ‘Confessional Statement’ – Held – The Supreme Court has held that conviction under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, cannot be based solely on the confessional statement of a co-accused, in the absence of a substantive piece of evidence. The bench observed: “Even if we are to proceed on the premise that such statement under Section 67 of the NDPS Act may amount to confession, in our view, certain additional features must be established before such a confessional statement could be relied upon against a co-accused. It is noteworthy that unlike Section 15 of Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act, 1987 which specifically makes confession of a co-accused admissible against other accused in certain eventualities; there is no such similar or identical provision in the NDPS Act making such confession admissible against a co-accused. The matter, therefore, has to be seen in the light of the law laid down by this Court as regards general application of a confession of a co-accused as against other accused.” “On the touchstone of law laid down by this Court such a confessional statement of a co-accused cannot by itself be taken as a substantive piece of evidence against another co-accused and can at best be used or utilized in order to lend assurance to the Court.”
The Hon'ble Supreme Court did not agree with the observations of the trial Court and High Court that if the accused has given his consent that he can be searched by the police officer then it is compliance of S.50. The Court acquitted the accused citing its reasons: - the appellant was not produced before any Magistrate or Gazetted officer; - none of the police officials of the raiding party, who recovered the contraband "Charas" from him was Gazetted Officer - It is mandatory for the prosecution to prove that the search and recovery was made from the appellant in the presence of a Magistrate or a Gazetted Officer.
The Hon'ble Supreme Court in the present matter had taken cognizance of the fact that a lot of seized contraband is being kept with the Central and State agencies and that the efforts taken towards the destruction of such contraband are not adequate. The Court has observed that the contraband is finding its way back into the society. After careful scrutiny of the collected data from different agencies and High Courts in regard to seizure, storage, disposal and destruction of the seized contraband, the Court has delivered a judgment on these aspects of NDPS law.
The Court held that the accused must be individually informed that under Section 50(1) of the NDPS Act, he has a right to be searched before a nearest gazetted officer or before a nearest Magistrate.
Therefore, mere non-joining of an independent witness where the evidence of the prosecution witnesses may be found to be cogent, convincing, creditworthy and reliable, cannot cast doubt on the version forwarded by the prosecution if there seems to be no reason on record to falsely implicate the appellants.
The Apex Court has condemned adjournments and mandated block dates for examination of witnesses, directed each state to establish forensic labs. Guidelines for retesting of samples, monitoring of trial, quality of public prosecutors have been issued by the Apex Court.
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