Read Order: Sukhdev Singh vs. State of Punjab 

Pankaj Bajpai

New Delhi, March 8, 2022: While hearing a case of non-compliance of NDPS Act, the Supreme Court has held that physical nature of the material is not relevant for determining whether the contents of the sample analyzed were actually opium or not, and physical analysis is not prescribed under the provisions of the NDPS Act for testing the opium. 

A Larger Bench of Chief Justice N.V. Ramana, Justice A.S. Bopanna and Justice Hima Kohli observed that the aspect that the physical nature of the material was not relevant for determining whether the contents of the sample analyzed were actually opium or not, was appropriately adverted to by the Sessions Judge and confirmed by the High Court. 

The observation came pursuant to a Special Leave Petition directed against an order dated October 6, 2010 passed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana by Sukhdev Singh (Appellant).

The counsel for the appellant submitted that the prosecution had not been able to prove the case beyond any reasonable doubt as there was no independent witness in the present case. The counsel further submitted that mandatory provisions of Section 50 of the Narcotic, Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act,1985 (NDPS Act) were not complied with and the appellant was neither searched nor told of his right to be searched before the Gazetted Officer or the Magistrate.

Opposing the same, the counsel for the State submitted that the appellant was searched in the presence of S.P., District Moga, who is a gazetted officer, as per the provisions of Section 50 of the NDPS Act, and it was found that the appellant was carrying 4kgs of opium and 20gms were taken as sample. Thereafter, the Chemical Examiner, after the completion of the necessary investigation, confirmed that the substance was opium. 

After considering the submissions, the Larger Bench noticed that the report of the Chemical Examiner indicated that some powder material/chura was undertaken for analysis which was found to contain morphine and meconic acid. 

The counsel for the State pointed out that as per the provisions of the NDPS Act, it is nowhere mentioned that opium should necessarily be in the form of a sticky material, as contended by the Appellant’s counsel, noted the Bench.  

The Larger Bench further observed it was only on the basis of the contents of a particular sample that a conclusion was to be arrived at regarding the same being opium. 

Accordingly, the Apex Court refused to interfere with the order passed by the High Court.

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