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"Poor Illiterate Lady", "Senior Citizen","Rural Background" : Supreme Court Reduces Sentence Awarded To An NDPS Convict

Ashok KM
10 Aug 2022 1:30 PM GMT
Poor Illiterate Lady, Senior Citizen,Rural Background : Supreme Court Reduces Sentence Awarded To    An NDPS Convict
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The Supreme Court reduced sentence awarded to an aged and illiterate lady who was found guilty of possession of the commercial quantity of illegal 'Ganja'(Cannabis).

Budhiyarin Bai along with her two children were charged under Section 20(b)(ii)(C) of the NDPS Act for having joint possession of the commercial quantity of illegal 'Ganja'(Cannabis) of 05 quintal and 21.5 kilogram. Two others were also charged under Section 27­A of the NDPS Act that they delivered the illegal cannabis. The Trial Court convicted Budhiyarin Bai and acquitted other four persons of all the charges. She was sentenced for 15 years' rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 1 lakh. The prosecution did not challenge the acquittal of four co-accused. The appeal filed by Budhiyarin Bai was dismissed by the Chhattisgarh High Court.

While considering her appeal, the Apex Court bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and CT Ravikumar noted that neither the trial Court nor the High Court has considered that the lady was illiterate and a senior citizen. She was indeed residing but completely unknown to law, with two grown up children, with no previous background of being involved in any kind of criminal cases at any point of time in her life time, it noted.

"It may be noticed that the minimum sentence prescribed under the NDPS Act for such offence under Section 20(b)(ii)(C) is 10 years which may extend to 20 years with a fine of Rs. 1 lakh which may extend to Rs. 2 lakhs. While imposing higher than the minimum punishment, such of the factors which are to be taken into consideration have been provided under Section 32B of the NDPS Act but after we have gone through the record with the assistance of the counsel for the parties, we are of the view that the learned trial Judge as well as the High Court have not taken into consideration the factors to be kept in mind for imposing higher than the minimum sentence provided under Section 32B of the NDPS Act.", the bench observed.

The bench partly allowed the appeal by reducing the sentence to 12 years' rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 1 lakh and in default, to further undergo rigorous imprisonment of six months. It observed:

We are of the considered view that the offences under the NDPS Act are very serious in nature and against the society at large and no discretion is to be exercised in favour of such accused who are indulged in such offences under the Act. It is a menace to the society, no leniency should be shown to the accused persons who are found guilty under the NDPS Act. But while upholding the same, this Court cannot be oblivious of the other facts and circumstances as projected in the present case that the old illiterate lady from rural background, who was senior citizen at the time of alleged incident, was residing in that house along with her husband and two grown up children who may be into illegal trade but that the prosecution failed to examine and taking note of the procedural compliance as contemplated under Sections 42, 50 and 55 of the NDPS Act, held the appellant guilty for the reason that she was residing in that house but at the same time, this fact was completely ignored that the other co­-accused were also residing in the same house and what was their trade, and who were those persons who were involved into the illegal trade providing supplies of psychotropic substances, prosecution has never cared to examine...


..We are not going to examine the question any further but taking in totality of the matter and the background facts which have come on record that she was an illiterate senior citizen on the date of the incident, i.e., 15th January 2011, having no criminal record, and was from the rural background, completely unknown to the law and unaware of what was happening surrounding her, all these incidental facts have not been considered by the learned trial Court while awarding sentence to the appellant.

Case details

Budhiyarin Bai vs State of Chhattisgarh | 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 667 | CrA 1218 OF 2022 | 10 August 2022 | Justices Ajay Rastogi and CT Ravikumar

Headnotes

Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 ; Sections 20(b)(ii)(C), 32B - While imposing higher than the minimum punishment, such of the factors which are to be taken into consideration have been provided under Section 32B of the NDPS Act - The old age of the accused, who is a poor illiterate lady completely unaware of the consequences - Sentence reduced.

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