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Gauhati HC sets aside conviction, acquits duo under NDPS Act

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Guwahati, April 22: The Gauhati High Court has recently set aside the conviction of two accused persons on the ground that the seizure of the contraband substances from their possession was doubtful and without compliance of Section 52A of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, and acquitted the duo by rendering the benefit of doubt.

Notably, the accused have been convicted by a trial court under Section 20(C) read with Section 29 of NDPS Act and sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for 10 years each and pay a fine of Rs one lakh) each, and in default of payment of the fine, to undergo simple imprisonment for six months each.

“On a proper analysis of the evidence of the witnesses as well as the documents available on the record, I have no hesitation in holding that the impugned judgment is liable to be set aside and the appellants are to be acquitted by rendering the benefit of doubt,” the single-judge bench observed.

“In the absence of any material on record to establish that the samples of the seized contraband were drawn in presence of the magistrate and that the inventory of the seized contraband was duly certified by the magistrate, it is apparent that the said seized contraband and the samples drawn therefrom would not be a valid piece of primary evidence in the trial,” the bench said.

“From the evidence of PW 12 (investigating officer), it also discloses that he did not mention in his final complaint as to where and in what condition the samples were kept from June 16, 2015 to June 18, 2015. As per the final complaint, 24 grams of samples were collected but he did not give any explanation as to how 24 grams turned into 30 grams. He did not mention in his complaint regarding the impression of the seal used in the case and where the seal was kept. What seal impression was used and how and with what material sealing was done and about taking signatures of the accused persons and seizing officer, were not mentioned in his complaint petition,” the bench noted.

The brief facts of the case are that the Inspector of Customs, Guwahati had lodged a complaint stating inter alia that on June 15, 2015 information was received that a 12-wheeler truck bearing number UP-65-CT/0717, loaded with ganja, proceeded outside the state through Baihata Chariali, and accordingly, the vehicle was intercepted with the help of other officials near Baihata Chariali police point. Two persons were found inside the truck.

On being asked, they informed that they were transporting a consignment of coal from Guwahati to Kharioni, Uttar Pradesh. On further inquiry, both the persons confessed that in fact they proceeded to Rowta for unloading ganja which was concealed under the consignment of coal and thereafter, the vehicle was taken to the customs office at Christian Basti, Guwahati for recovery of ganja.

After removing the tarpaulin cover from the truck, eight packets, packed with high density polyethylene (HDPE) materials containing dry plant materials, believed to be ganja, and weighing about 213 kg were found. The suspected ganja was subsequently seized and the case was registered accordingly and the two appellants were arrested.

After receipt of the report from the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL), a chargesheet was submitted against both the appellants under Section 20(C)/29 of the NDPS Act and the trial court had subsequently convicted both the accused.

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