Section 50 of the NDPS Act is applicable only in the case of personal search, the Supreme court has reiterated while affirming the conviction of an accused who was a temple priest.
One of the contentions raised by the accused in this case was about the non compliance of Section 50 of the NDPS Act. According to him, the samples were handed over to an officer who himself gave the sample to another officer or carrying the same to the Central Laboratory at Delhi and these seals remained with the Director, as such the chances of tampering could not be ruled out and also on the ground that the case of the prosecution was unnatural and improbable. The Trial Court acquitted the accused on this ground. The High Court, later, set aside acquittal and convicted the accused.
The bench referred to a three judge bench judgment in State of H.P. v. Pawan Kumar which considered the issue whether the safeguards provided by Section 50 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, regarding search of any "person" would also apply to any bag, briefcase or any such article or container etc., which is being carried by him. It said:
"As rightly held by the High Court, this Court in the case of State of H.P. v. Pawan Kumar has held that Section 50 of the NDPS Act is applicable only in the case of personal search, as such, there is no basis for the findings recorded by the trial court that there was non-compliance of provision under Section 50 of the NDPS Act."
The court noted that the evidence on record established that the counter of the dhaba which was constructed on the land owned by his wife near the temple and the charas was found in the counter of the dhaba in a gunny bag. The facts of the case show that accused not only had direct physical control over charas, he had the knowledge of its presence and character, the court observed.
However, taking note of the fact that the incident occurred in the year 2001 and that the accused claimed to be a priest in the temple, who is now aged about 65 years, the bench modified the sentence from 15 years rigorous imprisonment to 10 years.
In State of H.P. v. Pawan Kumar, it was held that Section 50 of the Act can have no application when the contraband was allegedly recovered from the bag, which was being carried by the accused. "There is no warrant or justification for giving an extended meaning to the word "person" occurring in the same provision so as to include even some bag, article or container or some other baggage being carried by him.", it was held in that case.
Case no.: CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.688 OF 2013Case name: Jeet Ram vs. Narcotics Control Bureau, Chandigarh Coram: Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah Counsel: Adv Purushottam Sharma Tripathi, lASG Aman Lekhi
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