Allahabad High Court: Absence of Magistrate Invalidates Sample Evidence in NDPS Trial

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LI Network

Published on: February 13, 2024 at 11:33 IST

The Allahabad High Court, in the case of Satyapal and Anr. vs. State of U.P., has reiterated that samples not drawn in the presence of a Magistrate, as mandated by Section 52A of the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act), cannot be considered valid primary evidence during trial.

Section 52A (2), (3), and (4) of the NDPS Act specify that when contraband is seized and forwarded to the nearest police station, samples must be drawn in the presence of a Magistrate, who certifies their correctness.

The certified inventory or photographs become primary evidence in NDPS Act offenses.

The High Court, led by Justice Ram Manohar Narayan Mishra, set aside the 10-year conviction of two individuals found with illegal opium powder in 2004.

The prosecution claimed that a sample was drawn on the spot for examination, but the entire case property, except for this sample, was not produced during the trial.

The prosecution argued that the contraband was destroyed due to rain while stored in the Malkhana. The Court, referring to recent Supreme Court rulings, emphasized that the non-production of the bulk contraband during trial, along with the disposal in violation of Section 52A, is fatal to the prosecution’s case.

The Court noted the negligence in maintaining the case property and stated that the destruction of the bulk contraband violated Section 52A.

It emphasized that the prosecution failed to prove compliance with the NDPS Act’s procedures in drawing samples and certifying them by the Magistrate.

Consequently, the Court held that the samples, drawn without Magistrate presence, cannot be considered valid primary evidence, rendering the trial vitiated.

The conviction of the appellants was set aside, and the appeal was allowed. Counsel for the appellants were Murtuza Ali, Gufran Ahmad Khan, and Imtiyaj Ali, while the counsel for the opposite party was G.A.

The case title is Satyapal And Anr. vs. State of U.P. (2024 LiveLaw AB 82, Criminal Appeal No. 6549 of 2018).

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