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Allahabad High Court Orders Registration Of Case Against Officers For Seizing Cough Syrups As 'Psychotropic Substance'

Sparsh Upadhyay
1 Dec 2021 10:40 AM GMT
Allahabad High Court Orders Registration Of Case Against Officers For Seizing Cough Syrups As Psychotropic Substance
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The Allahabad High Court recently ordered registration of a case against the seizing party who searched and seized cough syrups from a man treating them as Psychotropic Substance and thereby granted bail to the man.The Bench of Justice Pankaj Bhatia persued the FIR registered in the matter as well as the medical report to hold that the search and seizure conducted by the authorities was a...

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The Allahabad High Court recently ordered registration of a case against the seizing party who searched and seized cough syrups from a man treating them as Psychotropic Substance and thereby granted bail to the man.

The Bench of Justice Pankaj Bhatia persued the FIR registered in the matter as well as the medical report to hold that the search and seizure conducted by the authorities was a clear misuse of the powers.

Case in brief 

A search was conducted and 1540 bottles of 100 ML each which contained a wrapper and two plastic bags containing 536 empty bottles and packaging caps thereof were seized from a Car registration and three persons were apprehended.

The seizure was made as the seizure party found that the medicines being carried out were fake medicines and on the wrapper of the medicine seized, it was mentioned "Chlorpheniramine Maleak and Codeine Phosphate Syrup (max coff)". In the tests, the material was found to be 'Codeine Phasphate', and the same tested negative for Chlorpheniramine Maleate.

The apprehension was made out and recorded in the FIR that excess consumption of Codeine can cause intoxication and therefore, a case had been registered against the accused under Sections 8/21/22 of the NDPS Act.

The Counsel for the accused argued that the case reflected the reckless manner in which the liberty and the rights of the applicant had been infringed by the Seizing Party misusing their statutory authority provided under the NDPS Act.

Court's observations 

Noting that the search and seizure made was a clear misuse of powers, the Court, at the outset, observed that in the light of the specific bar of Section 58 of the NDPS Act coupled with the fact that the NDPS Act is a stringent statute providing for very stringent penal consequences and is to be interpreted strictly.

Against this backdrop, the Court referred to Section 2(xiv) [defining narcotic drugs] and Section 2(xxiii) of NDPS Act [defining narcotic substance] and observed that the product seized did not fall within any of the things specified.

"Despite the seized quote being medicine, in the seizure memo, no satisfaction forming a reasonable belief was recorded prior to causing the seizure which is a sine-qua-non for the exercise of powers of seizure under Section 42(c) of the Act," the Court further noted.

The Court also took into account the fact that the only thing that had been mentioned in the seizure memo was that excess consumption of codeine can cause intoxication.

"The said certainly does not qualify to be a 'reasonable belief' which is required to be recorded prior to seizure in terms of the mandate of Section 42," the Court added as it emphasized that the instant case is a clear case for proceedings against the officers making the seizure in terms of the mandate of Section 58(1)(b) and (c) of the NDPS Act.

Importantly, Section 58 deals with Punishment for vexatious entry, search, seizure, or arrest.

Therefore, granting bail to the accused, the Court ordered registration of a case against the seizing party under the provisions of Section 58(1)(b) of the NDPS Act and for proceeding in accordance with the law.

Case title - Ajay Bajpai v. State of U.P.

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