The Tripura High Court on 2nd March 2021 rejected the petition by affirming the judgment and order of conviction of the appellants, passed on 30.07.2018, for the offence punishable under Section 20(b)(ii)(c) of the NDPS Act, 1985.
The Bishalgarh PS on receiving secret information at midnight of 07.09.2016 took an ambush at Raster-matha road, NH-44, and detained the vehicle bearing reg. No. NLO1-K-3095 along with the Accused (appellants). During the search, a secret chamber was detected in the driver’s cabin from where 1130 Kgs. of dry Ganja and a cash amount of Rs. 21,500/-, were recovered and seized by the police. Thereby, on taking of suo moto cognizance by IO and after the investigation, a prima facie case was made out against the accused persons, for the offence punishable under Section 20(b)(ii)(C) of the NDPS Act, 1985. Though no specific evidence was being adduced the accused pleaded that they were not the actual vehicle’s driver and thus, denied all the evidence recorded against them and claimed to be innocent. Thus, after examining the matter, the learned Special Judge held the Accused persons guilty for committing the said offence and sentenced them to suffer rigorous imprisonment for 10 years each with a fine of Rs.1,00,000/- only each. Therefore, the accused persons aggrieved by the decision of the Court filed an instant appeal.
The convict-appellants pleaded that they were implicated with the instant case on the suspicion basis only and there was a gross violation of compliance of the provisions under sec. 41, 42 and 52 of the NDPS Act pertaining to detention, search and seizure of the vehicle as well as the contraband articles. It was further argued that the seizure list has not been supported by an independent witness. It was also contended that the samples drawn by the investigating officer were not produced to the Magistrate immediately after seizure and there were conflicting depositions of the relevant witnesses regarding the forwarding of information to superior officers and thus, the appellants pleaded acquittal.
Furthermore, the appellants strenuously contended that said vehicle was not driven by them and the convict-appellants went to the police station only at the instruction of the vehicle’s owner where they got arrested.
The Additional Public Prosecutor contended that while investigating the matter in the instant case, all the procedures under sec. 41, 42 and 52(A) of the NDPS Act were complied with from the presenting of ocular evidence to the documentary as well as material objects, thus, the prosecution case was well established. He further argued that Dhan Bahadur Chetri was the driver of the said vehicle and it was driven by him which was proved from the authorization letter issued by the owner. Therefore, it was prayed that the judgment and order of conviction and sentence as passed by the learned Special Judge, should be upheld.
The bench of Hon’ble Chief Justice Akil Kureshi & Justice Arindam Lodh observed that in the instant case, the search was conducted only based on secret information; the police officers had no personal knowledge about the genuinity of such information and thus, the officers were empowered to stop the vehicle in compliance of Section 49 of the NDPS Act. Also, drawing samples by SI Ashutosh Sharma before the registration of FIR has not caused any prejudice to the accused persons as such entry search of the vehicle and seizure were carried out in consonance with the provision of the NDPS Act. Moreover, the samples were found intact by the Forensic Examiner and the remnants of representative samples were identified as dry ganja and thereafter, the entire seized contraband was destroyed with the permission of the court. Therefore, the court found no immateriality in carrying out the investigation and affirmed the conviction of the convict-appellants.
The Hon’ble Court dismissed the appeal by confirming the verdict of being guilty by learned Special Judge, West Tripura, Agartala in case No. Special (NDPS) 24 of 2016, against the appellants.
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