Criminal Appeal No. 580 of 2020

Provisions Involved

Section 20(b)(ii)(B) of Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act)


The Police searched the Appellant after following the mandatory and necessary provisions of Section 50 of the NDPS Act and recovered the 20kg of Prohibited Narcotic Substance-Ganja from the motorcycle, which had the Appellant. After making the Panchnama, the Police seized the Ganja and out of 20kg, made two packets of 100 grams viz ‘B1’ & ‘B2’ for a sample. The Police sealed the samples and made an entry in the seizure list. Remaining narcotic substance or Ganja was marked as ‘B’. The samples were sent to a lab for testing, where it was founded that the narcotic substance was Ganja. The Police also made Panchnama.  

ASI J. K. Sen, as soon as he received the information, made FIR or Dehati Nalsi. Inspector Ashish Shukla conducted a further investigation based on FIR and statement of witnesses, and he provided the information of investigation to Special Judge and Municipal Police Officer. Accordingly, the charge sheet was made against Appellant for the offence under Section 20(b)(ii)(B) of the NDPS Act.



Judgments of the Supreme Court often enhance a particular enactment or law as a whole. While deciding any criminal matter, the ultimate object of the law is to convict and punish the accused based on witnesses, evidence, etc., unless the contrary is proved and to prevent the society using deterrence theory. The Supreme Court in this particular relied on actual documentary evidence such as lab tests reports, Panchnama, etc. and official witnesses in support for such evidence; therefore, where investigation agencies critically follow the due procedure of law; their officials, irrespective of any independent witness, are abundant to prove the crime. The ownership is immaterial under the NDPS Act, only possession of that vehicle and recovery of contraband from such vehicle is sufficient. Being lenient in a sentence is a discretionary power of each Court of land and the Judge has to exercise such power based on the gravity of the offence, shreds of evidence, and other relevant facts.

Some add on suggestions are as follows:

  1. The State should provide proper training to police officials so that they barely make such clerical mistakes or any other forms of mistakes.

  1. The State through Police must take care of prosecution witnesses, so they cannot turn hostile under any circumstances.

  1. In respect of enmity issues between Police and accused, the State should, before the commencement of the investigation, verify the backlog of investigating officers.


  1. Special Court: After the examination of eight prosecution witnesses including two independent witnesses, relying on documentary shreds of evidence produced on record and also relying on the 313 statement (Statement of Accused u/s 313 of CrPC) of the Appellant, the Special Court convicted the Appellant u/s 20(b)(ii)(B) of NDPS Act and served the punishment as mentioned above.

  1. High Court: In the appeal, the contention raised that the complainant and investigating officer is same, i.e. ASI J.K. Sen, who registered FIR and part of the investigation and to prove it one case has been cited. The High Court, relying on the evidence and witnesses, denied the contentions and upheld the decision of the Special Court.  

  1. Supreme Court: The counsel on behalf of the Appellant put several contentions before the Court, accordingly, the observations & decisions of the Supreme Court on such contentions as follows:-

  • Examination of Prosecution witnesses is enough to prove the case against the Appellant, notwithstanding two independent witnesses turned hostile, as all the witnesses have cross-examined by the defence and perusal of 313 statement of the Appellant has proved no enmity between Appellant and police officers. The Supreme Court, relying on the case Surinder Kumar v. The State of Punjab, (2020) 2 SCC 563, has observed that, mere non-support of two independent witnesses may not reject the testimony of other official witnesses and non-examination of independent witnesses is not necessary to lethal the prosecution case. Therefore, the police officers being official witnesses are reliable and trustworthy.
  • The Supreme Court has denied the non-compliance of Section 42 & 55 of the NDPS Act, relying on the statements made on oath by Prosecution witnesses 8 and 3 & 7 respectively. While denying the subsequent contention, the Supreme Court has observed, the clerical mistake while numbering the sample seized, in a memorandum; and the samples were sent to FSL.
  • The dependency of the Appellant on the case of Mohan Lal v State of Rajasthan has been denied by the Supreme Court, as the decision in Mohan Lal case has been overruled by Mukesh Singh case. The issue raised by Appellant about the same person, i.e. ASI J.K.Sen, was acting as investigating officer, as well as complainant, has been denied by the Supreme Court in toto.
  • Relating to the issue of ownership of the motorcycle, the Supreme Court has observed, under NDPS Act ownership of the vehicle is not required to be proved. Further, the Court has delivered that the narcotic substances were found from the vehicle, which was purchased by Appellant and therefore, the ownership is immaterial. Thus, non-proving of ownership of a vehicle would not harm the trial.
  • Relating to the prayer of lenient view, the Supreme Court considering the object and purpose of the NDPS Act and facts of the case has observed that, the punishment under the NDPS Act for the offence, in this case, is ten years of rigorous imprisonment with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees. Therefore, the Special Court had already taken the lenient view in respect to punishment, accordingly rejected the prayer.
  • At last, the Supreme Court, by upholding the findings and the decisions of the Special Court and High Court of Chhattisgarh, has dismissed the appeal by convicting the Appellant under Section 20(b)(ii)(B) of the NDPS Act.  

Consequence of Decision

  1. Onwards, every investigating officer, before initiating an investigation under this act, has to prove his unbiased nature or no enmity with the accused.

  1. In future, clerical mistakes will be neglected only based on documentary reports or other documents, which may lead to repetition of such unethical conduct or negligence on the part of police staff.  

  1. In respect of the vehicle, it must be purchased by the accused, whether ownership is transferred or not. Therefore, the additional burden of proving the purchase by the accused is put on police officers.