Non-Production Of Seized Narcotic Drug Fatal To Prosecution Case: SC [Read Judgment]
No explanation has also been furnished by the prosecution for non-production of the ganja as an exhibit in the trial, the bench said.
The Supreme Court, in Gorakh Nath Prasad vs State of Bihar, has held that mere fact of an FSL report being available is no confirmation either of the seizure or that what was seized was ganja, in the absence of the production of the seized item in court as an exhibit.
The non-production of the seized material is therefore considered fatal to the prosecution case, the bench of Justice RK Agrawal and Justice Navin Sinha said, while it set aside conviction and sentence of a man under Section 20(b)(ii)(c) of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, for 15 years.
The bench observed that though the NDPS Act provides for a reverse burden of proof upon the accused, contrary to the normal rule of criminal jurisprudence for presumption of innocence unless proved guilty, this shall not dispense with the requirement of the prosecution to having first establish a prima facie case, only where after the burden will shift to the accused.
“The mere registration of a case under the Act will not ipso facto shift the burden on to the accused from the very inception. Compliance with statutory requirements and procedures shall have to be strict and the scrutiny stringent. If there is any iota of doubt, the benefit shall have to be given to the accused,” the bench observed.
“No explanation has also been furnished by the prosecution for non-production of the Ganja as an exhibit in the trial. The benefit of doubt will, therefore, have to be given to the Appellant,” the bench said.
The court also observed that the prosecution witnesses being police officers only, it will not be safe to rely upon their testimony alone, which in any event cannot be sufficient evidence by itself, either with regard to recovery or the seized material being ganja.
Read the Judgment Here