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Wednesday, Oct 16, 2019

Drugs case: Man let off as rights not read out in Hindi

mumbai Updated: Sep 23, 2019 23:31 IST

A special court under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act acquitted an alleged drug peddler, as a police officer failed to explain to the accused his rights, before he was searched, in Hindi. The officer instead spoke to the accused in English, which the man did not understand.

The NDPS Act is strict when it comes to rights of the accused while they are being searched for narcotics.Failure to comply with any of the provisions of the search and seizure and rights of the accused vitiates the entire process. According to the case probed by the Anti-Narcotics Cell, Shadab Shaikh, 32, a resident of South Mumbai, was found in possession of 40g mephedrone (MD) on August 7, 2015. The prosecution said an officer from ANC had received information from his sources that Shaikh was to come to Santacruz (East) to sell mephedrone (MD) on August 7, 2015. A team from ANC caught him in possession of a bag of drugs.

Four years later, when the case came to trial, the court found several lacunas in the procedure followed by officers.

The accused’s lawyer, Munira Palanpurwala, said, “There has been gross violations of mandatory provisions contained in Sections 42 (power of entry, search, seizure and arrest without warrant or authorisation) and 50 (conditions under which search of persons shall be conducted) of the NDPS Act, which entitles the accused for acquittal. She further submitted that the process of sealing and sampling is defective.”

Sections 42 and 50 of the NDPS Act deal with the power of an officer and procedure, from receipt of information to seizure of drugs, and later sampling the drug for forensic analysis, which he has to follow while conducting a search of a person suspected to be dealing with narcotics.

The court held that failure to follow this procedure creates a doubt in the entire process.

The court noted that it is mandatory for the officer to inform his superior officer within 72 hours in writing about the information received, which was not done. The court further noted that accused can be searched only after he is informed and explained about his rights of search before the nearest magistrate. The court noted that “on minute perusal of the evidence on record, it would reveal that the accused was either not properly apprised about such a right under the NDPS Act or he was not at all apprised.” The prosecution said the accused was told about his rights and was given a form to sign with that effect, which was in English. After going through the evidence, the court observed, “The said apprisal is defective in the eyes of law in the sense that the accused did not know English and therefore, it was necessary to explain him the meaning of NDPS in Hindi, which has not been done.”

First Published: Sep 23, 2019 23:31 IST

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