Bombay HC upholds acquittal of 6 persons in drugs case

The Bombay High Court recently upheld the acquittal of six persons in a narcotics case for non-compliance of the police with mandatory provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act which safeguard innocent persons from misuse of powers by officers.

Section 42 of the Act gives powers to officers of the Central Excise, narcotics, Customs and Revenue Intelligence to enter, search, seize and arrest without warrant or authorisation. It, however, as a safeguard, requires the officer to take down the information in writing when he or she receives information of commission of an offence under the law or record the reasons for his belief and send it to his superior officer within 72 hours.

Justice KR Shriram said in his order that it is not the prosecution case, that there was compliance, albeit a little late. It held that the trial court had rightly held that there was total non-compliance.

The court said that there is “no evidence” that the information was reduced in writing by the investigating officer. The other mandatory procedure of sending a copy of the information received or reasons recorded has also not been done, it noted.

The investigation officer had deposed before the trial court that he had entered information in a station diary and informed his senior over telephone. “Entering the information in a station diary and communicating to the immediate official is not strict compliance of mandatory provisions of Section 42 of NDPS Act,” Justice Shriram said, adding that the provision requires an officer to send a copy of the information that he has reduced in writing. This was not complied with, it said.

The court said the prosecution has filed station diary entry in the present case.

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