The Supreme Court has held that non-production of contraband material, by itself, is not a ground for acquittal, if its seizure is otherwise proved.
On this ground, the bench of Justices U U Lalit and Vineet Saran set aside the acquittal ordered by the High Court in a case under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 1985.
"If the seizure of the material is otherwise proved on record and is not even doubted or disputed the entire contraband material need not be placed before this Court. If the seizure is otherwise not in doubt, there is no requirement that the entire material ought to be produced before the Court.", held the judgment authored by Justice Lalit in the case State of Rajasthan v Sahi Ram.
The allegation was that seven bags of poppy straw weighing 223 kilograms were seized from the accused persons. The trial court convicted the accused for offences under Sections 8 and 15 of NDPS Act.
In appeal, the High Court set aside the conviction on the ground that non-production of entire contraband material was fatal to the case. Only two samplespackets and one bag of poppy straw weighing 2.5 kg were produced and exhibited while the entire contraband material was not produced and exhibited.
Challenging the acquittal, the State Government filed appeal in the Supreme Court.
The respondent-accused relied on the decisions in Vijay Pandey v. State of Uttar Pradesh, Vijay Jain v. State of Madhya Pradesh, Jitendra v State of MP, to support the HC judgment.
The SC however noted that none of nonproduction of the contraband material before the Court has singularly been found to be sufficient to grant the benefit of acquittal.
At times the material could be so bulky, for instance as in the present material when those 7 bags weighed 223 kgs that it may not be possible and feasible to produce the entire bulk before the Court, the judgment observed.
"If the seizure is otherwise proved, what is required to be proved is the fact that the samples taken from and out of the contraband material were kept intact, that when the samples were submitted for forensic examination the seals were intact, that the report of the forensic experts shows the potency, nature and quality of the contraband material and that based on such material, the essential ingredients constituting an offence are made out.", the judgment said.
On this reasoning, the appeal was allowed, restoring the trial court's conviction.
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