The Delhi High Court, on Tuesday, reiterated that proceedings under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985 stand vitiated if the same person acts as the Investigating Officer (IO) and the complainant.
The judgment was passed by Justice C. Hari Shankar.
The court was hearing a petition filed by one Gurtej Singh Batth, challenging a judgment passed in August, 2014, whereby he was convicted under the NDPS, and was sentenced to 10 years rigorous imprisonment.
Mr. Batth had now claimed innocence and had also asserted that the proceedings stood vitiated because the IO was the complainant. While the Special Judge had opined that IO Rajendra Verma had filed the complaint in his official capacity, the high court did not agree with this reasoning.
Justice Shankar relied on the judgments in the case of Mohan Lal v. State of Punjab and Arif Khan v. State of Uttarakhand. In Mohan Lal, the Supreme Court had held that the informant and the investigator in NDPS cases must not be the same person. In Arif Khan, the Apex Court had emphasised on the importance of adhering to the procedure for search of persons under Section 50 of the Act.
The court ruled that the proceedings in the case stood vitiated as the same person was the IO and the complainant. It observed, “In view of the law laid down in Mohan Lal (supra), therefore the fact that PW-1 Rajendra Verma was the I/O, as well as the complainant, completely vitiated the proceedings in the present case.”
Section 50 was also held to have been violated, with the court noting, “Once Section 50 of the NDPS Act, is treated as applicable, Arif Khan (supra) clearly applies, resulting in the present proceedings being vitiated additionally for the reason that the search and recovery did not take place in the presence of a Magistrate or a Gazetted Officer.”
The appeal was, therefore, allowed, with the court opining that the proceedings against the appellant stood completely vitiated in law for the above two reasons.