Important SC Judgments on NDPS Act

The Narcotics and psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 law made news in 2021 , thanks to the media coverage it got through various celebrities that were booked under it , including Aryan Khan.

In 2021 , the Supreme Court delivered some important judgements interpreting this law. This article lists those judgements /orders.                                                                                               

Quantity Of Narcotic Substance Recovered Is A Relevant Factor To Impose Punishment Higher Than The Minimum: Supreme Court

In the case of Gurdev Singh v State of Punjab ( LL 2021 SC 196) , a bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah observed that quantity of narcotic substance recovered is a relevant factor that can be taken into account for imposing higher than the minimum punishment under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. The Court also observed that the Court has a wide discretion to impose the sentence/imprisonment ranging between 10 years to 20 years and while imposing such sentence/imprisonment in addition, the Court may also take into consideration factor as it may deem fit other than the factors enumerated in Section 32B (a) to (f) of the Act.

Private Vehicle Is Not A “Public Place” As Explained In Section 43 NDPS Act: Supreme Court

In the case of Boota Singh v State of Haryana ( LL 2021 SC 218) , a bench comprising Justices UU Lalit and KM Joseph observed that a private vehicle would not come within the expression “public place” as explained in Section 43 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. The bench also observed that total non-compliance of Section 42 is impermissible though its rigor may get lessened in certain situations.

In this case, recovery was effected from the accused while they were sitting on road in a jeep at a public place. While upholding the conviction of the accused, the High Court held that the case of accused would be covered by Section 43 of NDPS Act and not by Section 42. Section 42 deals with Power of entry, search, seizure and arrest without warrant or authorisation while Section 43 with power of seizure and arrest in public place.

Supreme Court Grants Bail To Kannada Actress Ragini Dwivedi In Sandalwood Drug Case

In the case of Ragini Dwiwedi v State of Karnataka ( LL 2021 SC 38 ) , a Bench headed by Justice Rohinton F. Nariman granted bail to Kannada actor Ragini Dwivedi, who had been arrested by the police for allegedly consuming and supplying drugs at parties and events organized by her and others, and set aside a Karnataka High Court order wherein her bail plea was dismissed. The Bench noted that Section 37 of the NDPS Act had been wrongly invoked by the Sessions Court and the High Court.

NDPS: Absence Of Recovery Of Contraband From Possession Of Accused By Itself Not A Ground To Grant Bail

The Supreme Court observed that bail cannot be granted to an accused under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, merely on a finding of the absence of possession of the contraband on the person of the accused. Such a finding does not absolve the court of the level of scrutiny required under Section 37(1)(b)(ii) of the NDPS Act, the bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and BV Nagarathna observed. The court reiterated that the test to apply while granting bail is whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that the accused has not committed an offence and whether he is likely to commit any offence while on bail.

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