Thursday, February 2, 2023

SC constitution bench says acquittal can’t be a general rule when accused and IO are the same in NDPS cases

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court’s 5-Judge Constitution bench today ruled that it cannot be held as a general proposition that an accused under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, Act, 1985 (NDPS) is entitled to acquittal merely because the complainant is also the investigating officer (IO).

The bench, comprising Justices Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, M R Shah and S. Ravindra Bhat observed:

“Merely because the informant and the investigating officer is the same, it cannot be said that the investigation is biased and the trial is vitiated.”

The Constitution Bench clarified that it depends on the facts and circumstances of each case if the investigation has become tainted because the informant and the investigation officer were the same. It cannot be held as a blanket rule.

Narcotic Drugs

The bench said that the acquittal already given by the Supreme Court on the ground that the investigating officer and the complainant was the same will apply to the facts of those cases only and cannot apply as a general rule.

The bench was hearing on a question of law referred by a three-judge bench on whether trial of cases under NDPS Act will be vitiated if the informant and the investigating officer is the same person.

A three-judge bench in the case of Mohanlal vs State of Punjab had held that trial of cases under act will be vitiated if the informant and the investigating officer is the same person.

Read Also: Mallya’s review petition against contempt judgment dismissed by SC

However, the two-judge bench in the case of Mukesh Singh vs State differed on the view and had observed:

“Where the complainant himself had conducted investigation, such aspect of the matter can certainly be given due weightage while assessing the evidence on record but it would be completely different thing to say that the trial itself would be vitiated for such infraction.”

In Varinder Kumar vs State of Himachal Pradesh a three-judge bench held that the decision in the Mohanlal case decision will not be applicable to trials and appeals pending as on the date of that decision.

– India Legal Bureau

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