The Punjab and Haryana High Court recently cautioned a Special Judge for not keeping abreast with the latest developments in the law.
Taking note of an order for grant of bail passed by the Special Judge trying offences under the NDPS Act, the single bench of Justice Rekha Mittal remarked,
"The Special Judge either did not keep herself updated with the latest position in law or did not bother to examine the case in the light of latest judgment of Hon'ble the Supreme Court Hira Singh and another Vs. Union of India and another, 2020(2) RCR (Criminal) 523…"
The Court was hearing the bail plea of one Mandeep Singh, booked under the NDPS Act for possession of more than permitted quantity of contraband. One of the issues involved in the matter was whether recovery of contraband was to be taken as a commercial or non-commercial quantity.
The Petitioner-accused, and his co-accused Gurpreet Singh, were apprehended in possession of 420 Lomotil tablets and 420 Alprax05 tablets (both substances containing mixed salts). The Special Judge had allowed the bail plea of the latter holding that due to different salt, the material falls within non commercial range.
The High Court noted that the Special Judge had erred in law as it is settled position that in case of seizure of mixture of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances with one or more neutral substance(s), quantity of neutral substance(s) is not to be excluded and to be taken into consideration along with actual content by weight of offending drug, while determining small or commercial quantity of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances.
This position was settled by a 3-Judge bench of the Apex Court in April this year, in the case of Hira Singh.
NDPS - Quantity Of Neutral Substances In Mixture Must Be Taken Into Account With Actual Drug Weight To Determine 'Small Or Commercial Quantity' : SC
Considering the statement of objects and reasons of the NDPS Act, the Top Court had observed, "it was never the intention of the legislature to exclude the quantity of neutral substance and to consider only the actual content by weight of offending drug which is relevant for the purpose of determining whether it would constitute small quantity or commercial quantity".
The bench also noted that drugs are mostly sold as a mixture, and never in a pure form.
Through this case, the bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee and M R Shah overruled the 2008 decision E. Micheal Raj v. Intelligence Officer, Narcotic Control Bureau, which had held that only the actual weight of the drug in a mixture will matter under the NDPS Act, and that the weight of the neutral substances can be excluded.
Case Title: Mandeep Singh alias Cheenu v. State of Punjab
Case No.: CRM-M No. 15481/2020 (O&M)
Quorum: Justice Rekha Mittal
Appearance: Advocate Swarn Tiwana (for Petitioner); Asstt. AG Harpreet Singh Multani (for State)
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