Bom HC | Conviction of Japanese national under NDPS Act reversed where contents of charge not explained in a language understood by him

Bombay High Court: Prithviraj K. Chavan, J. allowed an appeal filed by the appellant against the order of the Special Judge (NDPS) whereby he was convicted under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 for being found in illegal possession of LSD liquid and charas.

The appellant was represented by Caroline Collasso, Advocate who contended that his prosecution was based on total falsity as there were several discrepancies and lacunae in the case. S.R. Rivankar, Public Prosecutor, urged the Court to pass necessary orders.

Discussing the scope of Section 50 of NDPS Act, the High Court relied on Arif Khan v. State of Uttarakhand, (2018) 18 SCC 380, and noted that it is obligatory upon the officer concerned to apprise the suspect of his right to be searched before a Gazetted Officer or Magistrate. The Court was of the opinion that the mandatory requirement of Section 50 was not satisfied in the present case, and therefore the impugned order was liable to be set aside.

Apart from that, it was pertinently noted that the charge against the appellant was itself defective, in the sense that, it nowhere revealed that the contents of the charge were explained to the appellant in the language understood by him and after following the same, he pleaded not guilty. The charge which was farmed was in the English Language. And it was an uncontroverted fact, the appellant who was a Japanese National did not know English. More surprisingly, the Advocate appearing for the appellant did not argue the matter on charge and left it to the Court, which also could be said to be against the right of the accused to be heard at the time of the framing of the charge. The Court observed it as apparent that the charge was farmed sans giving a proper hearing to the appellant.

In such view of the matter, the Court quashed the conviction and sentence awarded to the appellant and set aside the impugned order. [Yusuji Hinagata v. State, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 2474, decided on 01-10-2019]

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