Read Order: State of Haryana v. Rattan Singh

Monika Rahar

Chandigarh, May 20, 2022:  While dealing with an appeal filed by the State of Haryana against the acquittal of an accused in NDPS case, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has found no perversity, arbitrariness or infirmity in the order of acquittal as there were flaws in the prosecution story and the prosecution had failed to establish its case against the accused beyond a shadow of reasonable doubt.

The Bench of Justice H.S. Madaan observed from the perusal of the impugned judgment of acquittal that the accused was arrested four years after the registration of the FIR in spite of the fact that two members of the Police party claimed, when they saw the accused at the spot of recovery (wherefrom he escaped), to have known him. This was also coupled with the fact that the sample parcels were deposited with the FSL after an explained delay of 21 days. 

Briefly stated, the facts of this case are that on September 30, 2001, while the police party was present on patrolling duty, the accused was found standing on the road carrying a PARNA (a piece of cloth). On seeing the police party, the accused escaped leaving the PARNA behind which on being checked was found to contain 680 gms of CHARAS. 

Out of the total contraband recovered, 20 gms. of CHARAS was drawn as a sample. The sample and the remainder were converted into sealed parcels and taken into police possession; ruqa was sent to the police station, on the basis of which a formal FIR under Section 20 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (‘the Act’), was registered. Allegedly, the accused was known to two members of the Police party. 

Investigation into the case started. The accused was initially declared a proclaimed offender but later on, he came to be arrested. The Additional Sessions Judge, Hisar vide judgment acquitted the accused of the charge framed against him under Section 20 of the Act. 

Aggrieved, the State of Haryana approached the Court by way of moving an application under Section 378(3) Cr.P.C. (as amended up to date) for grant of leave against such judgment of acquittal. The leave was accordingly granted and the case was admitted for regular hearing. 

The Court, at the very outset, perused the impugned judgment and observed that the trial Court acquitted the accused of the charge framed against him for various reasons, the first of which is that the prosecution version that the accused was known to ASI Hari Chand and HC Naresh Kumar earlier was found to be untrustworthy. 

Secondly, it was observed that the Trial Court noted that the presence of the accused on the spot was found to be doubtful. While referring to the statements of co-villagers of the accused, the trial Court drew an inference that the accused was a permanent resident of village Sisar and had been residing there, thus in such circumstances, it became difficult for Court to understand why he was arrested after about 4 years of registration of the FIR.

Further, it was also one of the reasons that it was highly improbable that the accused could not be apprehended by four police officials, who were on duty. Also, the fact that the place of recovery was a busy one yet no independent witness was joined with the investigation despite easy availability, rendering the prosecution case doubtful.

The Court also questioned the unexplained delay of 21 days in depositing the sample parcels with FSL, thus creating suspicions surrounding the tampering of the seals and substance. Lastly, it was observed that there were a number of discrepancies in the statements of official witnesses. 

Thus, in light of the above, the Court added that the cumulative effect of all such flaws was that the prosecution story became doubtful and the prosecution had failed to establish its case against the accused beyond a shadow of reasonable doubt, resulting in the acquittal of the accused.

Therefore, the Court was of the opinion that the judgment of acquittal passed by the trial Court was well-reasoned, based upon proper appraisal and appreciation of evidence and correct interpretation of the law. It can certainly be not termed as perverse, arbitrary or suffering from any illegality or infirmity, the Court held. The appeal was thus dismissed. 

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