If drugs are found in suspect’s vehicle

Safeguards for personal search not needed: HC

CHANDIGARH: The Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled that safeguards to be followed before conducting a personal search of a suspect in a drugs case were not required to be complied with when the contraband was found in the vehicle the suspect was travelling in.

Safeguards for personal search not needed: HC

editorial@tribune.com

Saurabh Malik

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 17

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled that safeguards to be followed before conducting a personal search of a suspect in a drugs case were not required to be complied with when the contraband was found in the vehicle the suspect was travelling in.

The ruling by the Bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Harinder Singh Sidhu came on an appeal filed by Puran Chand and another accused against the Narcotics Control Bureau’s Chandigarh Zonal Unit.

The matter was placed before the High Court after the Ropar special court for NDPS cases, in May 2013, convicted and sentenced Puran Chand and another to rigorous imprisonment for 14 years and directed them to pay a fine of Rs 1.5 lakh each under the provisions of the NDPS Act. In default of payment of the fine, they were sentenced to undergo simple imprisonment for two years each.

The prosecution’s case was that a car was intercepted, with the appellants occupying it. They disclosed their identity. A search led to the recovery of charas from the rear doors of the car. The contraband was sealed and all formalities were completed at the spot strictly in accordance with law.

The Bench was told that the samples were sent for a chemical examination and the FSL report, on the basis of chemical and chromatographic examinations, concluded that the samples under reference, indeed, answered positive for tetra hydrocannabinol or charas.

Appearing before the Bench, counsel for the appellants submitted that Section 50 of the NDPS Act had not been complied with at the time of the search. Section 50 prescribes safeguards to be followed before conducting a personal search of a suspect. It confers an extremely valuable right upon a suspect to get his person searched in the presence of a gazetted officer or a magistrate.

Not agreeing with the submission, Justice Rajiv Sharma, on behalf of the Bench, asserted: “Since the recovery in this case is from a car, a personal search of the appellants was not required to be carried out at all.”

After hearing the arguments and going through the evidence, the Bench added that the prosecution had proved its case against the appellants beyond reasonable doubt. There was no merit in the appeals and the same were dismissed and the impugned judgment and order are upheld.

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