top of page

Private vehicle is not a “public place” as per Section 43 of NDPS Act: SC

The explanation to Section 43 shows that a private vehicle would not come within the expression “public place” as explained in Section 43 of the NDPS Act. On the strength of the decision of this Court in Jagraj Singh alias Hansa, the relevant provision would not be Section 43 of the NDPS Act but the case would come under Section 42 of the NDPS Act.” (Para 12)


BOOTA SINGH & OTHERS V. STATE OF HARYANA

Criminal Appeal No. 421 OF 2021.

Decided on April 16, 2021.


The two-Judge Bench comprising of Justice Uday Umesh Lalit and Justice K.M. Joseph decided the present case. The Supreme Court allowed the appeal, setting aside the judgment of the High Court, and acquitted the appellants of the charges leveled against them.


S.I Nand Lal, PW4, along with fellow police officers got a secret information that the accused are selling poppy straw in a vehical bearing register number GUD-4997, which belonged to one of the accused, Gurdeep Singh, on a ‘kacha path’ at Rori-Jatana road. The raid was conducted and the officers found 2 bags of poppy straw weighing 39 and 36 Kg respectively. One of the accused, Major Singh fled the site. Notice under section 50 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 were served before them but they reposed faith upon the officers. The vehicle along with the bags were taken into possession and Major Singh was arrested later.


The charges were framed and the accused pleded not guilty and upon the hearing of the trial court, the vehical in question was released in favour of the accused. During the trial, PW4 stated that no recoding of the secret information was stored in writing and there was no search warrant for conducting the seach of the vehicle. The trial court acquited the accused Major Singh but convicted the rest of the accused under section 15 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. The convicted accused filed an appeal before the High Court, but the appeal was dismissed. The aggrired accused then filed an appeal before the supreme court.


Though it was parked on a public road, Mr Praveen Kumar, learned counsel for the appellant, argued that the vehicle was a private vehicle rather than a public conveyance. Adding further that since no recording was done of the secret information and there was no search warrant for conducting a search of the vehicle, thus the case would be governed under section 42 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 and not under section 43.


On the other hand Mr. Rakesh Mudgal, learned AAG, argued that the lower courts were right that the case is dealt under section 43 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.


The Supreme Court after hearing from both the parties and referring to the cases, stated that, “The evidence in the present case clearly shows that the vehicle was not a public conveyance but was a vehicle belonging to accused Gurdeep Singh. The Registration Certificate of the vehicle, which has been placed on record also does not indicate it to be a Public Transport Vehicle. The explanation to Section 43 shows that a private vehicle would not come within the expression “public place” as explained in Section 43 of the NDPS Act. On the strength of the decision of this Court in Jagraj Singh alias Hansa 3 , the relevant provision would not be Section 43 of the NDPS Act but the case would come under Section 42 of the NDPS Act.” (Para 12)


The Court also stated that, “The decision of this Court in Karnail Singh as followed in Jagraj Singh alias Hansa, is absolutely clear. Total non-compliance of Section 42 is impermissible. The rigor of Section 42 may get lessened in situations dealt with in the conclusion drawn by this Court in Karnail Singh but in no case, total non-compliance of Section 42 can be accepted.” ( Para 14)


The appeal was allowed



Utkarsh Kumar Jayaswal

Comments


Articles

bottom of page