Bombay High Court

Bombay High Court: Bharati Dangre, J. directed to release a Nigerian National on bail who was arrested in 2020 under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 after discovering that there was a typing error in the forensic analysis report of the seized substances.

On specific information received that a Nigerian National (the applicant) would be coming on the given spot at the given time to sell cocaine, a team was formed by the ATS and raid was conducted. On personal search the alleged contraband purported to be cocaine concealed in blue coloured plastic bag weighing around 116.19 gms and a transparent plastic pouch containing Saffron coloured heart shape pills weighing around 40.73 gms and some pink coloured Ecstasy tablets weighing around 4.41 gms were recovered. He was arrested and FIR was lodged on 23-10-2020.

Directorate of Forensic Science Laboratory’s report regarding the materials seized was held to be sufficient to charge the applicant under section 8C, 20, 22 of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (the Act). After the expiry of more than one year, the Assistant Director realized the mistake committed by him while issuing his report and he addressed a communication to the Sr. PI, ATS clarifying that there was a typing mistake and he expressed his apology while issuing a corrigendum.

The Court in the wake of the corrigendum noted that the substance which was alleged to be contraband and recovered from the applicant at the time when the raid was conducted, does not fall within the purview of the Act.

The Court observed that the error, which is sought to be explained and projected as a typing error, is a blatant mistake, which is admitted by the Assistant Director after more than a year, of incarceration of the applicant. It deserves to be looked at seriously, but for the said report, the applicant could not have been detained.

“Liberty of an individual is of paramount importance and it is the fulcrum of the Indian democracy. Recognized as a fundamental right, enshrined in Article 2, it is available to every person, citizens and foreigners alike. The State Authorities, though supreme and in-charge of the law and order situation, which includes implementation of various statutes intended to achieve specific purpose and particularly a special statute like NDPS are expected to behave in a responsible manner.”

The Court asked the State to come up with a proposal as to how it wants to compensate the applicant for realizing that his incarceration was unnecessary as the raid did not lead to recovery of any contraband/psychotropic substance covered under the NDPS Act. The applicant was granted bail.

[Novafor Samuel Inoamaobi v. State of Maharashtra, Bail Application NO. 2816 of 2021, decided on 10-08-2022]

Ashwini Achari with Taraq Sayed i/b Advait Tamhankar for the applicant.

A.A. Takalkar, APP for the State.

*Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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