17 June 2024


Judgments

Supreme Court

Jeet Ram Vs. The Narcotics Control Bureau, Chandigarh

MANU/SC/0684/2020

15.09.2020

Narcotics

False answers offered by Accused in examination under Section 313 of CrPC can be used against him

Present appeal is filed by the sole Accused aggrieved by the judgment of conviction and further order of sentencing the Appellant, passed by the High Court. The Appellant-Accused was tried for a charge punishable under Section 20 of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 ('NDPS Act'). The Sessions Judge, by judgment acquitted the Accused by recording a finding that the case of prosecution was not free from doubt and there were many infirmities in the case of the prosecution to hold that, the Accused was found to be in possession of charas, as alleged by the prosecution.

It is mainly contended by learned Counsel for the Appellant that, the well considered judgment of the trial court acquitting the Appellant from the charge, is reversed by the High Court without recording cogent reasons.

The view taken by the trial Court was not at all possible, in view of evidence on record. As submitted by the learned Additional Solicitor General appearing for the prosecution, it is always open to the appellate Court to re-appreciate the evidence, on which the order of acquittal is founded, and appellate Courts are vested with the powers to review and come to their own conclusion.

Even with regard to the plea of the Appellant that, the evidence on record on behalf of the prosecution is not sufficient enough to hold that the Appellant-Accused was in conscious possession of the seized material, also cannot be accepted. It is clear from the evidence on record that, the Appellant was on the counter of the dhaba which was constructed on the land owned by his wife near the temple and the charas was found in the counter of the dhaba in a gunny bag. The facts of the case show that, Accused not only had direct physical control over charas, he had the knowledge of its presence and character.

As rightly contended by Sri Aman Lekhi, learned Additional Solicitor General in the case of Mohan Lal vs. State of Rajasthan, present Court had held that, a functional and flexible approach in defining and understanding possession as a concept has to be adopted and the word has to be understood keeping in mind the purpose and object of the enactment. In the statement recorded under Section 313 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC) though the Appellant has referred to Brij Lal and Mantu in support of a version, contrary to that presented by prosecution but he has not chosen to examine either Brij Lal or Mantu. No defence witness has deposed to the chain of events, as has been stated by the Appellant in the statement under Section 313 of CrPC.

It is also fairly well settled that where Accused offers false answers in examination under Section 313 of CrPC, same also can be used against him. Further, onus was on the Appellant to explain the possession and in absence of the same being discharged, presumption under Section 54 of the NDPS Act also will kick in. The judgment of the High Court does not suffer from any infirmity so as to interfere with the judgment of conviction.

In facts and circumstances of the case and in view of the fact that, the incident occurred in the year 2001 and as the Appellant claimed to be a priest in the temple, who is now aged about 65 years, present is a fit case to modify the sentence imposed on the Appellant. Accordingly, the sentence awarded on the Appellant is reduced to a period of 10 years, while maintaining the conviction and the penalty as imposed by the High Court. The order of sentence passed by the High Court stands modified. The appeal is partly allowed.

Relevant

Mohan Lal vs. State of Rajasthan MANU/SC/0465/2015

Tags : Conviction Sentence Legality

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