Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: A Division Bench of Joymalya Bagchi and Suvra Ghosh, JJ. upheld the conviction of the appellants for the commission of the offence punishable under Section 21(c) read with Section 29 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.

The prosecution case is based on the recovery at two places. Firstly, 3.5 kgs of heroin was recovered from the first appellant and 50 kgs of heroin was recovered from the rented house in the possession of the second appellant. The first appellant was sentenced to death and the second appellant was sentenced with rigorous imprisonment for 30 years and to pay a fine of Rs 3 lakhs in default to suffer rigorous imprisonment for one year or more. Aggrieved by these orders, first appellant filed the instant death reference which was clubbed with the appeal filed by the second appellant against his conviction.

Jayanta Narayan Chatterjee, representing the appellants, prayed for the acquittal of the appellants and argued that seizure of possession of 3.5 kgs of heroin is vitiated in law as it is not as per the terms of Section 50 of the Act. Also, the primary witness did not recognise the second appellant. Furthermore, the appellants denied making statements under Section 67 of the NDPS Act during their examination under Section 313 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

The prosecution relied on the Supreme Court case of Bachan Singh v. State of Punjab, (1980) 2 SCC 684 and argued that death penalty ought to be awarded in the present case as the first appellant has been convicted of the possession of narcotic substance above commercial quantity on two occasions and in spite of commutation he has been convicted for the second time. It also argued that Section 50 of the Act doesn’t apply as the seizure was under the terms of Section 43 of the Act.

The Court upheld the contentions of the prosecution and held that the possession of the 3.5 kgs and 50 kgs of heroin by appellants had been proven beyond doubt. The Court followed the Bachan Singh case and made a balance sheet of aggravating and mitigating circumstances to see if it had any alternative other than imposing the death penalty on the first appellant.

The Court held that Section 31 A of the NDPS Act provided for the death penalty in certain cases and the imposition of it may or may not deter others from committing similar crimes in the future. It modified the sentence imposed on the first appellant with the alternative sentence of rigorous punishment for 30 years and to pay a fine of Rs 3 lakh rupees in default to suffer rigorous imprisonment for three years more. The sentence imposed on the second appellant was upheld. The death sentence was discharged and the sentence appeal was allowed with the aforesaid modification.[State of West Bengal v. Ansar Rahman, 2019 SCC OnLine Cal 5189, decided on 26-11-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: Chander Bhusan Barowalia, J. granted bail to a 22 year old student for an offence committed under Section 21 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act. As per the averments made by him, the petitioner claimed to be innocent and that he was falsely implicated for the case. 

As per the prosecution, the petitioner was nabbed by the police on 25-08-2019. Upon being checked, there was a brownish substance found in his bag, which was heroin. After the FIR was registered, the petitioner was arrested and during the course of interrogation and investigation, it was revealed that he was a drug addict. The police had sent the sample of contraband for forensic analysis and the report revealed that the sample was of Diacetylmorphine (Heroin). Therefore, the prosecution prayed that the bail application of the petitioner should be dismissed, as the petitioner was found involved in a serious crime. The petitioner further argued that he was not in a position to tamper with the prosecution’s evidence nor was in a position to flee from justice. He also argued that no fruitful purpose will be served by keeping him behind the bars for an unlimited period especially when the investigation is complete. 

The Court, after considering that the petitioner was only 22 years old, and was only a student, and also considering the fact that the petitioner was a drug addict and he had the contraband for his own use, there was a possibility that the petitioner may reform in case he would be enlarged on bail. Further, he was a permanent resident of District Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, and was not in a position to tamper with the prosecution evidence nor was in a position to flee from justice. The Court found that the case was a fit case where the judicial discretion to admit the petitioner on bail must be required to be exercised in his favour. The petition was allowed and he was released on bail subject to his furnishing personal bond in the sum of twenty thousand rupees with one surety in the like amount to the satisfaction of the learned Trial Court. [Vikas Sagar v. State of Himachal Pradesh, 2019 SCC OnLine HP 1524, decided on 16-09-2019]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Pakistan Supreme Court: A Full Bench comprising of Manzoor Ahmad Malik, Syed Mansoor Ali Shah and Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed, JJ. dismissed a criminal appeal against the order of the Peshawar High Court where a Nigerian national was convicted under Section 9(c) of the Control of Narcotic Substances Act, 1997.

In the instant case, the respondent (a Nigerian national) was caught by the contingent of Anti Narcotics Force along with 25 kilograms of heroin. He faced trial before the Special Court (CNS) who returned with a verdict of guilty. He was convicted under Section 9(c) of the Control of Narcotic Substances Act, 1997 and was sentenced to imprisonment for life and a fine of rupees one million or five-year simple imprisonment in case of default. He appealed to the Peshawar High Court which acquitted him from the charge primarily on the ground that, contraband allegedly recovered was destroyed in violation of procedure provided under Section 516 A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898. Aggrieved thereby, the State filed the instant criminal appeal.

Mr Muhammad Tariq Khan, learned ASC for the State contended that the destruction of the contraband under magisterial supervision ruled out the possibility of any foul play and thus strict non-compliance with the suggested procedure would not vitiate respondent’s culpability which was otherwise firmly established through massive evidence.

The Court held, “We would abstain to examine the vires of arguments raised before us in absence of the respondent, a Nigerian national, reported to have left Pakistan as in his absence the exercise would be merely an academic discussion without consequential impact.” Further, it was held, “we find it inexpedient to interfere with the impugned judgment as in the event of a reversal of the impugned view, a cumbersome procedure of respondent’s extradition would be a process far from convenient.”  Thus, the appeal was dismissed.[State v. Olufemi, 2019 SCC OnLine Pak SC 7, decided on 28-03-2019]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Court of Appeal of Sri Lanka:  A Two-Judge Bench comprising of Deepali Wijesundera, and Achala Wengappuli, JJ. affirmed the conviction of appellant alleged under Section 54A(b) and (d) of the Poisons, Opium and Dangerous Drugs Ordinance as amended, for illegally trafficking and possessing 4.29 grams of heroin.

Facts of the case were such that the appellant was found guilty for both the abovementioned offences and was punished with imprisonment of life by Colombo High Court. Aggrieved by the same appellant filed this appeal with a prayer to set aside the above conviction. It was contended by the appellant that trial court did not properly consider his statement made from the dock. The main contention being that there were inconsistencies between the two prosecution witnesses on the fact of where and when exactly the notes of investigations were made. It was submitted that the notes of the investigation were pasted in the information book after 11 days of the date of detection. Pieces of evidence for the same were shown suggesting both the investigating officer’s notes of investigations were made on the same day of the detection and it was only pasting it on information book which was delayed.

Court of Appeal observed that just because notes were pasted belatedly on information book does not render the notes prepared to be unreliable. With respect to the statement made by the appellant from the dock, the trial court had rejected his statement which the Court of Appeal found to be correctly rejected. Court finding all the contentions of the appellant to be baseless dismissed this appeal. [Samban Chandrasekeran v. Attorney General, C.A.No.263 of 2017, decided on 05-10-2018]