Supreme Court’s Acquittal in a NDPS Case: Yusuf v. State
A comprehensive analysis of the Supreme Court’s verdict in Yusuf v. State, highlighting the importance of procedural guidelines under the NDPS Act.
Introduction to NDPS Case
On October 13, 2023, the Supreme Court of India delivered a landmark judgment in the case of Yusuf v. State, acquitting a man who had been sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment for possession of commercial quantities of heroin.
The Case at Hand
The appellant, Yusuf Asif, along with three other individuals, was sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment after being found in possession of 20 kgs of heroin. Their conviction by the Trial Court was later upheld by the High Court.
The appellant argued that the seizure and sampling of the alleged contraband were in violation of the mandatory provisions of Section 52A of the NDPS Act. This section outlines the procedure and manner of seizing, preparing the inventory of seized material, forwarding the seized material, and getting the inventory certified by the Magistrate.
Observations by the Supreme Court
The Apex Court observed that there was no dispute that samples from the seized substance were drawn by the police in the presence of a gazetted officer and not in the presence of a Magistrate. The court stated, “No evidence has also been brought on record that the samples were drawn in the presence of the Magistrate and the list of samples so drawn were certified by the Magistrate. The mere fact that samples were drawn in the presence of a gazetted officer is not sufficient compliance with subsection (2) of Section 52A of the NDPS Act”.
Relevant Provisions under Discussion
Section 52A (2)
|Pertains to the procedure when any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance has been seized|
Section 52A (3)
|States that when an application is made under sub-section (2), the Magistrate shall allow the application as soon as may be|
Section 52A (4)
|States that every court trying an offence under this Act, shall treat the inventory, the photographs of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances and any list of samples drawn under sub-section (2) and certified by the Magistrate, as primary evidence in respect of such offence|
|Pertains to the power to invest officers of certain departments with powers of an officer-in-charge of a police station for the investigation of offences under this Act|
The court set aside the conviction of Yusuf Asif, stating that “the failure of concerned authorities to lead primary evidence vitiates the conviction and as such in our opinion, the conviction of appellant deserves to be set aside”.
This case highlights the importance of adhering to procedural guidelines during investigations under NDPS Act. It underscores that failure to comply with these guidelines can lead to acquittal, even in cases involving commercial quantities of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
References of NDPS Case