Accused found in possession of “manufactured drug” can be tried under NDPS Act in place of Drugs and Cosmetics Act: SC

Supreme Court: A Bench comprising of N.V. Ramana, M.M. Shantanagoudar and M.R. Shah, JJ. allowed a set of appeals filed against the common judgment of the Punjab and Haryana High Court whereby it had allowed application for suspension of sentence preferred by accused persons and directed them to be released on bail.

The accused were apprehended with “manufactured drugs” and convicted by the trial court under Sections 21 and 22 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. Aggrieved by the conviction and sentence, the accused approached the High Court. During the pendency of appeals, the High Court passed the judgment stated above observing that “manufactured drugs”, be it containing narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances, must be tried under Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940. Aggrieved thereby, the State preferred present appeals.

On perusal of the matter, the Supreme Court was of the opinion that the judgment of the High Court was untenable. Analysing the objectives of the two Acts, it was observed, “while Drugs and Cosmetics Act deals with drugs which are intended to be used for therapeutic or medicinal usage, the NDPS Act intends to curb and penalize the usage of drugs which are used for intoxication or for getting a stimulant effect.” In the instant case, accused were found in bulk possession of manufactured drugs without valid authorisation. It was noted that Section 80 of NDPS Act provides that provisions of the Act are in addition to and not in derogation of Drugs and Cosmetics Act. Reference in this connection was also made to Union of India v. Sanjeev V. Deshpande, (2014) 13 SCC 1. Further, it is prerogative of the State to prosecute the offender in accordance with law. In such view of the matter, the judgment of the High Court was set aside and the authorities concerned were directed to take the accused in custody. [State of Punjab v. Rakesh Kumar,2018 SCC OnLine SC 2651, decided on 03-12-2018]

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