NDPS Act- Court Should Be Satisfied That Confession Is Voluntary And Accused Was Apprised Of His Rights: SC [Read Judgment]
" Even if it is admissible, the Court has to be satisfied that it is a voluntary statement, free from any pressure and also that the accused was apprised of his rights before recording the confession."
The Supreme Court has observed that, even if confessions made to investigating officers are held to be admissible under Section 67 of the NDPS Act, the Court has to be satisfied that it is a voluntary statement, free from any pressure and also that the accused was apprised of his rights before recording the confession.
In Mohammed Fasrin vs. State, the conviction of the accused under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, was mainly based on the confessional statement he and his co-accused had made to the investigating officer.
The bench comprising Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Aniruddha Bose noted that the issue, whether a statement recorded under Section 67 of the NDPS Act can be construed as a confessional statement even if the officer who has recorded such statement was not to be treated as a police officer, has been referred to a larger Bench in the case of Tofan Singh v. State of Tamil Nadu. The bench observed:
We, for the decision of this case, therefore, proceed on the premise that the confession is admissible. Even if it is admissible, the Court has to be satisfied that it is a voluntary statement, free from any pressure and also that the accused was apprised of his rights before recording the confession. No such material has been brought on the record of this case. It is also well settled that a confession, especially a confession recorded when the accused is in custody, is a weak piece of evidence and there must be some corroborative evidence.
The bench, in this case, noted that no such material has been brought on the record on the basis of which a court could record its satisfaction that the confession was voluntary. Other than the two confessional statements – one of the co-accused and the other of the accused, the prosecution has gathered no evidence to link the appellant with the commission of the offence, the bench said while acquitting the accused.
What happened to Tofan Singh vs. State of Tamil Nadu
A two judge bench of Justice AK Patnaik and Justice AK Sikri, in 2013, had referred these issues to the larger bench.
- Whether the officer investigating the matter under the NDPS Act would qualify as police officer or not?
- Whether the statement recorded by the investigating officer under Section 67 of the Act can be treated as confessional statement or not, even if the officer is not treated as police officer?
Last year, a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi had asked the Registry to bring it to the notice of Chief Justice of India that reference made in Tofan Singh vs. State of Tamil Nadu is still pending.
Thereafter, the case was heard in part by a three judge bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi on 17th January 2019. It is not seen listed after this date.