To prove case under NDPS Act, ownership of the vehicle not required to be established and proved

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah, JJ has held that to prove the case under the Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act), the ownership of the vehicle is not required to be established and proved.

The Court was hearing the case wherein accused were convicted for commission of offence under Section 20(b)(ii)(B) of the NDPS Act, having in their possession 20 kg each prohibited Narcotic Substance – Ganja.  As per the case of the prosecution, 20 kg of Ganja was recovered from the possession of the appellant from the motorcycle. It was argued that the prosecution having failed to prove the ownership of the motorcycle (vehicle) and/or failed to recover the motor cycle   subsequently, vitiates the prosecution case.

Taking note of the fact that in the present case the appellant and the other accused persons were found on the spot with the contraband articles in the vehicle, the Court said that it is enough to establish and prove that the contraband articles were found from the accused from the vehicle purchased by the accused. Ownership of the vehicle is immaterial. What is required to be established and proved is the recovery of the contraband articles and the commission of an offence under the NDPS Act. Therefore, merely because of the ownership of the vehicle is not established and proved and/or the vehicle is not recovered subsequently, trial is not vitiated, while the prosecution has been successful in proving and establishing the recovery of the contraband articles from the accused on the spot.

[Rizwan Khan v. State of Chhattisgarh, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 730, decided on 10.09.2020]

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