The Supreme Court, in a judgment delivered on Friday, has held that, the Police Officers cannot register FIR, arrest, prosecute or investigate in regard to Cognizable offence under Chapter IV of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.
The bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph held that an arrest can be made by the Drugs Inspector in regard to cognizable offences falling under Chapter IV of the Act without any warrant and otherwise treating it as a cognizable offence.
The court held thus while upholding an Allahabad High Court judgment that had quashed an FIR registered by the Police with respect to an offence registered under Drugs and Cosmetics Act. Centre had approached the Apex Court assailing the High Court judgment which held that FIR under CrPC cannot be lodged in respect of the Act.While dismissing the Appeal, the bench made the following conclusions:
Drug Inspector is invested with the power to arrest
If we interpret that it is a Drugs Inspector, acting under Section 22 of the Act, who alone can investigate offences falling under Chapter IV of the Act and there is no power for the Police Officer under the CrPC to investigate under the Act or to file a Report under Section 173 of the CrPC, which indeed is indisputable, then, a power of arrest, which is necessary for the purpose of investigating and prosecution of the offences falling within Chapter IV of the Act, must be conceded to the Drugs Inspector. The legislative intention in conferring various powers, as we have noticed in the foregoing provisions of Section 22 of the Act and declaring that all other powers, which are necessary for the purpose of the Act, are to inhere in the Drugs Inspector, reassures us that we would be correctly ascertaining the legislative intention to be that on a Drug Inspector taking-up a matter falling under Chapter IV of the Act, he is invested with the power to arrest. (Para 137)
Highest care must be taken to exercise power to arrest
The Court clarified that the existence of the power to arrest with the Drugs Inspector is not to be understood as opening the doors to making illegal, unauthorized or unnecessary arrest.
"Every power comes with responsibility. In view of the impact of an arrest, the highest care must be taken to exercise the same strictly as per the law. The power of arrest must be exercised, recognizing the source of his authority, to be Section 22(1)(d) of the Act, which is for carrying out the purpose of Chapter IV of the Act or any Rules made thereunder."
Ruling Operates From The Date Of The Judgment
It would appear that on an understanding of the provisions, arrests would have been effected by Police Officers in regard to the cognizable offences under Chapter IV of the Act. Having regard to the fact that we are resolving this controversy on a conspectus of the various provisions of the Act and the CrPC, we are inclined to direct that this Judgment, holding that Police Officers do not have power to arrest in regard to cognizable offences under Chapter IV of the Act, is to operate from the date of this Judgement.
UNION OF INDIA VS. ASHOK KUMAR SHARMA
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.200 OF 2020
Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph
ASG Pinky Anand and Sr. Adv S. Nagamuthu (Amicus Curiae)
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