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SC: Quantity of Neutral Substance Can’t be Ignored While Labelling Illegal Recovery as ‘Small’ or ‘Commercial’ Quantity

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NDPS ACT,1985 Law Insider

Savvy Thakur

Published on: 21 November 2022 at 23:18 IST

The Supreme Court stated once more that the quantity of neutral substances cannot be ignored when classifying the quantity of illegal goods seized as a “small quantity” or a “commercial quantity”.

When granting the appeal of the defendants who had been found guilty in an NDPS case, the Kerala High Court referred to E. Micheal Raj v. Intelligence Officer, Narcotic Control Bureau (2005) in deliver judgement in this case.

The bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Abhay S. Oka noted when the appeal against this judgment came up for hearing last week that the judgment in E. Micheal Raj (2008) was later overruled in Hira Singh vs. UOI.

The bench declared, “there is no cavil to the issue that the judicial pronouncement now settles the issue in “Hira Singh & Anr. Vs. UOI”…opining that the decision of this Court relied upon in the impugned judgment is no longer good law and in determining as to what is the quantity, the neutral substance quantity is not be ignored.”

The bench made the following observations while granting the State’s appeal:

“Because of the foregoing, we have little choice but to grant the appeal and maintain the ten-year sentence that the Trial Court handed down. However, we are aware of the absurdity of the situation caused by the appeal’s prolonged delay, as the challenged judgment dates back to March 28, 2007, or 15 years old.”

In Hira Singh (supra), the Supreme Court’s three-judge bench held that:

(I) This Court’s decision in the case of E. Micheal Raj (Supra) that the quantity of the neutral substance(s) is not to be taken into consideration when determining whether a narcotic drug or psychotropic substance is a small quantity or a commercial quantity and that only the actual content by weight of the offending narcotic drug is relevant for the purpose of determining whether it would constitute a small quantity or a commercial quantity is not a good law.

(II). When determining the “small or commercial quantity” of Narcotic Drugs or Psychotropic Substances, the quantity of the neutral substance(s) must be taken into account in addition to the actual content by weight of the offending drug in the event that a mixture of Narcotic Drugs or Psychotropic Substances is seized.