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Saturday, January 26, 2013

directions - the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985(hereinafter referred to as the “NDPS Act”), = Undertrial Prisoners Vs. Union of India & Ors.[1], which held that “where the undertrial accused is charged with an offence(s) under the Act punishable with minimum imprisonment of ten years and a minimum fine of rupees one lakh, such an undertrial shall be released on bail if he has been in jail for not less than five years provided he furnishes bail in the sum of rupees one lakh with two sureties for like amount”, finds constrained applicability in respect of cases under the NDPS Act, in light of Section 37 of the Act. Therefore, this Court in Achint Navinbhai Patel Vs. State of Gujarat & Anr.[2] observed that “it has been repeatedly stressed that NDPS cases should be tried as early as possible because in such cases normally accused are not released on bail.” = The laxity with which we throw citizens into prison reflects our lack of appreciation for the tribulations of incarceration; the callousness with which we leave them there reflects our lack of deference for humanity. It also reflects our imprudence when our prisons are bursting at their seams. For the prisoner himself, imprisonment for the purposes of trial is as ignoble as imprisonment on conviction for an offence, since the damning finger and opprobrious eyes of society draw no difference between the two. The plight of the undertrial seems to gain focus only on a solicitous inquiry by this Court, and soon after, quickly fades into the backdrop.= we direct that the filing of the charge- sheet and supply of other documents must also be provided in electronic form. However, this direction must not be treated as a substitute for hard copies of the same which are indispensable for court proceedings. 30. We expect and hope that the aforesaid directions shall be complied with by the Central Government, State Governments and the Union Territories, as the case may be, expeditiously and in the spirit that these have been made.


                                                            REPORTABLE

|IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA                                          |
|CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION                                        |
|CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1640 OF 2010                                       |
|                                                                       |
|THANA SINGH                             |—         |APPELLANT          |
|VERSUS                                                                 |
|CENTRAL BUREAU OF NARCOTICS             |—         |RESPONDENT         |



                                  O R D E R



1. This order, and its accompanying directions, are an outcome of  the  bail matter in Thana Singh Vs. Central Bureau of Narcotics listed before  this bench, wherein an accused, who had been languishing in  prison  for  more than twelve years, awaiting the commencement of his trial for an  offence under  the  Narcotics  Drugs  and  Psychotropic  Substances   Act,   1985(hereinafter referred to as the  “NDPS  Act”),  was  consistently  denied bail, even by the High Court.
 Significantly, the maximum punishment  for
   the offence the accused was incarcerated for, is twenty years; hence, the undertrial had remained in detention for a period exceeding  one-half  of the maximum period of imprisonment.
 An  express  pronouncement  of  this
   Court in the case of  Supreme  Court  Legal  Aid  Committee  Representing
   Undertrial Prisoners Vs. Union of India & Ors.[1], which held that
“where
   the undertrial accused is  charged  with  an  offence(s)  under  the  Act
   punishable with minimum imprisonment of ten years and a minimum  fine  of
   rupees one lakh, such an undertrial shall be released on bail if  he  has
   been in jail for not less than five years provided he furnishes  bail  in
   the sum of rupees one lakh with two  sureties  for  like  amount”,
finds
   constrained applicability in respect of cases  under  the  NDPS  Act,  in
   light of Section 37 of the Act.
Therefore, this Court in
Achint Navinbhai Patel Vs.  State  of  Gujarat  &  Anr.[2]  observed  that
“it  has  been
   repeatedly stressed that NDPS cases should be tried as early as  possible
   because in such cases normally accused are not released on bail.”

2. We  are  reminded  of  Justice  Felix  Frankfurter’s  immortal  words  in
   Antonio  Richard  Rochin  Vs.  People  of  the  State  of  California[3],
   coincidentally a case pertaining to narcotics, wherein he described  some
   types of conduct by state agents, although not specifically prohibited by
   explicit  language  in  the  Constitution,  as  those  that  "shock   the
   conscience" in that they offend "those canons  of  decency  and  fairness
   which express the notions of justice." Due process of  law  requires  the
   state to observe those principles that are "so rooted in  the  traditions
   and conscience of our people as to be ranked as fundamental." The general
   state of affairs pertaining to trials of  offences  under  the  NDPS  Act
   deserves a similar description.


3. The laxity with which we throw citizens into prison reflects our lack  of
   appreciation for the tribulations of incarceration; the callousness  with
   which we leave them there reflects our lack of deference for humanity. It
   also reflects our imprudence when  our  prisons  are  bursting  at  their
   seams. For the prisoner himself, imprisonment for the purposes  of  trial
   is as ignoble as imprisonment on conviction for  an  offence,  since  the
   damning finger and opprobrious eyes of society draw no difference between
   the two. The plight of the undertrial seems  to  gain  focus  only  on  a
   solicitous inquiry by this Court, and soon after, quickly fades into  the
   backdrop.


4. Therefore, bearing in mind the aforesaid imperatives, after granting  the
   deserved bail in that case, we decided to take cognizance of  status  quo
   and gain a first-hand account about the state  of  trials  in  such  like
   cases  pending  in  all  the  states.  Accordingly,  vide   order   dated
   30.08.2010,  we  issued  notice  to  all  states  through   their   Chief
   Secretaries to file affidavits furnishing information of all cases  under
   the NDPS Act where the undertrial has  been  incarcerated  for  a  period
   exceeding five years. In pursuance of the same, we received the  valuable
   assistance of the Additional  Solicitor  General  of  India,  Mr.  P.  P.
   Malhotra, learned amicus curiae, Ms.  Anita  Shenoy;  Mr.  R.  K.  Gauba,
   District and Sessions Judge (South), Saket, New Delhi; Registrar Generals
   of High Courts; Director General, Narcotics Control Bureau,  Ministry  of
   Home  Affairs,  senior-most  Officer-in-Charge  of   Investigations   and
   Prosecution for offences under  the  NDPS  Act;  representatives  of  the
   Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Customs and Excise Departments
   and Police of the States concerned.

5. We lay down the directions and guidelines specified hereinafter  for  due
   observance by all concerned as the  law  declared  by  this  Court  under
   Article 141 of the Constitution of India.
This is done in exercise of the
   power available under Article 32 of the Constitution for  enforcement  of
   fundamental  rights,  especially  the  cluster  of   fundamental   rights
   incorporated under Article 21, which stand flagrantly violated due to the
   state of affairs of trials under the NDPS Act.
We would like  to  clarify
 that these directions are restricted only to the  proceedings  under  the NDPS Act.

DIRECTIONS

A. Adjournments

6. The lavishness with which adjournments are  granted  is  not  an  ailment
   exclusive to narcotics trials; courts at every  level  suffer  from  this
   predicament.  The  institutionalization  of  generous   dispensation   of
   adjournments is exploited to prolong trials for varied considerations.


7. Such a practice deserves complete abolishment. 
The legislature enacted  a
   crucial amendment in the form of a fourth proviso to  Section  309(2)  of
   the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (through Section 21 (b) of Act 5  of
   2009) to tackle the problem,  but  the  same  awaits  notification.  Once
   notified, Section 309 will read as follows: -

           “309. Power to postpone or adjourn proceedings.


           (1) In every inquiry or trial the proceedings shall be  held  as
           expeditiously  as  possible,  and  in   particular,   when   the
           examination of witnesses has  once  begun,  the  same  shall  be
           continued from day to day until all the witnesses in  attendance
           have been examined, unless the Court finds  the  adjournment  of
           the same beyond the following day to be necessary for reasons to
           be recorded.


           (2) If the Court after  taking  cognizance  of  an  offence,  or
           commencement of  trial,  finds  it  necessary  or  advisable  to
           postpone the commencement of, or adjourn, any inquiry or  trial,
           it may, from time to time, for reasons to be recorded,  postpone
           or adjourn the same on such terms as it  thinks  fit,  for  such
           time as it considers reasonable, and may by a warrant remand the
           accused if in custody:


           Provided that no Magistrate shall remand an  accused  person  to
           custody under this section for a term exceeding fifteen days  at
           a time:


           Provided further that  when  witnesses  are  in  attendance,  no
           adjournment or postponement shall be granted, without  examining
           them, except for special reasons to be recorded in writing:


           Provided also that no  adjournment  shall  be  granted  for  the
           purpose only of  enabling  the  accused  person  to  show  cause
           against the sentence proposed to be imposed on him






           Provided also that-


           a) no adjournment shall be granted at the request  of  a  party,
              except where the circumstances are beyond the control of that
              party;


           b) the fact that the pleader of a party is  engaged  in  another
              Court, shall not be a ground or adjournment;


           c) where a witness is present  in  Court  but  a  party  or  his
              pleader is not present or the party  or  his  pleader  though
              present in Court, is not ready to examine or  cross-  examine
              the witness, the  Court  may,  if   thinks  fit,  record  the
              statement of the witness and pass such orders  as  it  thinks
              fit  dispensing  with  the  examination-in-chief  or   cross-
              examination of the witness, as the case may be


              Explanation 1.- If sufficient evidence has been  obtained  to
              raise a suspicion that the  accused  may  have  committed  an
              offence, and it appears likely that further evidence  may  be
              obtained by a remand,  this  is  a  reasonable  cause  for  a
              remand.


              Explanation  2.-  The  terms  on  which  an  adjournment   or
              postponement may be granted include,  in  appropriate  cases,
              the payment of costs by the prosecution or the accused.”
                                             [Emphasis supplied]




8. The fourth proviso  deserves  immediate  notification.
In  lieu  of  the
   lacuna created by its conspicuous absence, which is interfering with  the
   fundamental right of speedy trial [See: Hussainara Khatoon and  Ors.  Vs.
   Home Secretary, State of Bihar[4]], something this Court is  duty-  bound
   to protect and uphold, and till the statutory provisions are in place, we
   direct that no NDPS court would grant adjournments at the  request  of  a
   party except where the circumstances are beyond the control of the party.
   This exception must be treated as an exception, and must not  be  allowed
   to swallow the generic rule against grant of adjournments. Further, where
   the date for hearing has  been  fixed  as  per  the  convenience  of  the
   counsel, no adjournment shall be granted without exception. Adherence  to
   this principle would go a long way in cutting short  that  queue  to  the
   doors of justice.


9. Perhaps, a provision analogous to Section  22(c)  of  the  Prevention  of
   Corruption Act, 1988 may be seriously considered by the  legislature  for
   trials under the NDPS Act. It reads as follow:

           “22. The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 , to apply subject  to
           certain modifications.- 
The provisions of the Code  of  Criminal
           Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974 .), shall in their application to any
           proceeding in relation to an offence punishable under  this  Act
           have effect as if,--


           XXX                            XXX                       XXX
           (c) after sub- section (2) of section 317,  
the  following  sub-
           section had been inserted, namely:--


           ‘(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub- section  (1)  or
           sub-section (2), the  Judge  may,  if  he  thinks  fit  and  for
           reasons to be recorded by him, proceed with inquiry or trial  in
           the absence of  the  accused  or  his  pleader  and  record  the
           evidence of any witness subject to the right of the  accused  to
           recall the witness for cross- examination.”




B. Examination of Witnesses




10. Between harmonizing the  rights  and  duties  of  the  accused  and  the
   victim, the witness is  often  forgotten.  No  legal  system  can  render
   justice if it is  not  accompanied  with  a  conducive  environment  that
   encourages  and  invites  witnesses  to  give  testimony.  The   web   of
   antagonistic litigation with  its  entangled  threads  of  investigation,
   cross-examination, dealings with the police etc., as  it  is,  lacks  the
   ability to attract witnesses to participate in a process of  justice;  it
   is baffling that nonetheless, systems of  examination  that  sprout  more
   disincentives for a witness to take the  stand  are  established.  Often,
   conclusion of  examination  alone,  keeping  aside  cross-examination  of
   witnesses, takes  more  than  a  day.  Yet,  they  are  not  examined  on
   consecutive days, but on different dates spread  out  over  months.  This
   practice serves as  a  huge  inconvenience  to  a  witness  since  he  is
   repeatedly required to incur expenditure  on  travel  and  logistics  for
   appearance in hearings over a significant period  of  time.  Besides,  it
   often  causes  unnecessary  repetition  in  terms  of   questioning   and
   answering, and also places greater reliance on one’s ever-fading  memory,
   than necessary. All these factors together cause  lengthier  examinations
   that compound the duration of trials.

11. It would be prudent  to  return  to  the  erstwhile  method  of  holding
   “session’s trials” i.e. conducting examination and cross-examination of a
   witness on consecutive days over a block period of three  to  four  days.
   This  permits  a  witness  to  take  the  stand  after  making   one-time
   arrangements for travel and accommodation, after which, he  is  liberated
   from his civil duties qua  a  particular  case.   Therefore,  this  Court
   directs the concerned courts to adopt the method  of  “session’s  trials”
   and assign block dates for examination of witnesses.

12. The Narcotics Control Board also pointed out that since  operations  for
   prevention of crimes related to narcotic  drugs  and  substances  demands
   coordination  of  several  different  agencies  viz.  Central  Bureau  of
   Narcotics (CBN), Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB),  Department  of  Revenue
   Intelligence (DRI), Department of Custom and Central  Excise,  State  Law
   Enforcement  Agency,  State  Excise  Agency  to  name  a  few,  procuring
   attendance of different officers of these agencies becomes difficult.  On
   the completion of  investigation  for  instance,  investigating  officers
   return to their parent organizations and are thus, often  unavailable  as
   prosecution witnesses.  In  light  of  the  recording  of  such  official
   evidence, we direct the concerned courts to make most of Section  293  of
   the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and save  time  by  taking  evidence
   from official witnesses in the form of affidavits. The  relevant  section
   reads as follows:-

           “293. Reports of certain Government scientific experts.

           (1)   Any document purporting to be a report under the hand of a
           Government scientific expert to whom this section applies,  upon
           any matter or thing duly submitted to  him  for  examination  or
           analysis and report in the course of any proceeding  under  this
           Code, may be used as evidence in any  inquiry,  trial  or  other
           proceeding under this Code.


           (2)  The Court may, if it thinks fit,  summon  and  examine  any
           such expert as to the subject- matter of his report.


           (3)  Where any such expert is summoned by  a  Court  and  he  is
           unable to attend  personally,  he  may,  unless  the  Court  has
           expressly  directed  him  to  appear  personally,   depute   any
           responsible officer working with him to  attend  the  Court,  if
           such officer is conversant with the facts of the  case  and  can
           satisfactorily depose in Court on his behalf.


           (4)  This section applies to the following Government scientific
           experts, namely:-


           (a)    any Chemical Examiner or Assistant Chemical  Examiner  to
           Government;


           (b)  the Chief Controller of Explosives;


           (c)   the Director of the Finger Print Bureau;


           (d)   the Director, Haffkeine Institute, Bombay;


           (e)  the Director, Deputy Director or Assistant  Director  of  a
           Central Forensic Science Laboratory or a State Forensic  Science
           Laboratory;


           (f)    the Serologist to the Government.”


           (g)  any  other  Government  scientific  expert  specified,   by
           notification, by the Central Government for this purpose.


C. Workload



13.  The  courts  are  unduly  overburdened,  an  outcome  of  the   diverse
   repertoire of cases they are expected to handle. We are informed  by  the
   Narcotics Control Board that  significant  time  of  the  NDPS  Court  is
   expended in dealing with bail and other criminal matters.  Besides,  many
   states do not even have the necessary NDPS courts to deal with the volume
   of NDPS cases.
14. Therefore, we issue the following directions in this regard:


              i)          Each state, in consultation with the  High  Court,
                 particularly the states of Uttar Pradesh, West  Bengal  and
                 Jammu & Kashmir (where the  pendency  of  cases  over  five
                 years is stated to  be  high),  is  directed  to  establish
                 Special Courts which would deal exclusively  with  offences
                 under the NDPS Act.
             ii) The number of these courts must be  proportionate  to,  and
                 sufficient for, handling the volume of pending cases in the
                 State.
            iii) Till exclusive courts for the purpose of disposing of  NDPS
                 cases under the NDPS Act are established, these cases  will
                 be prioritized over all other matters; after the setting up
                 of the special  courts  for  NDPS  cases,  only  after  the
                 clearance of matters under the NDPS Act will an NDPS  court
                 be permitted to take up any other matter.


D. Narcotics Labs




15. Narcotics laboratories at the national level identify  drugs  for  abuse
   and their accompanying substances in  suspected  samples,  determine  the
   purity and the possible origin of illicit drugs, carry  out  drug-related
   research, particularly on new sources of drugs liable to abuse, and, when
   required by the police or courts of law, provide supportive expertise  in
   drug trafficking cases. Their role in the effective implementation of the
   mandate of the NDPS Act is indispensible which  is  why  every  state  or
   region must have proximate access to these laboratories so  that  samples
   collected for the purposes of the Act may be sent on a  timely  basis  to
   them for  scrutiny.  These  samples  often  form  primary  and  clinching
   evidence  for  both  the  prosecution  and  the  defence,  making   their
   evaluation by narcotics laboratories a crucial exercise.  


16.  The  numbers  of  these  laboratories  speak  for  themselves  and  are
   reproduced here. The numbers for Central  Forensic  Science  Laboratories
   (CFSL) are as follows: -



      |S. No |CFSL Location                                |Status            |
|1.    |Chandigarh                                   |In operation      |
|2.    |Hyderabad                                    |In operation      |
|3.    |Kolkata                                      |In operation      |
|4.    |Delhi (Under Central Bureau of Investigation)|In operation      |
|5.    |Bhopal                                       |Being established |
|6.    |Pune                                         |Being established |
|7.    |Guwahati                                     |Being established |

17.  Similarly,  numbers  for  the  state  and  regional  Forensic   Science
   Laboratories (FSL) are as follows:-


      |S. No.|Name of State                 |Existing State Facilities        |
|      |                              |Main State FSL     |Regional FSL  |
|1.    |Andhra Pradesh                |1                  |9             |
|2.    |Arunachal Pradesh             |1                  |0             |
|3.    |Assam                         |1                  |0             |
|4.    |Bihar                         |1                  |1             |
|5.    |Chattisgarh                   |1                  |2             |
|6.    |Goa                           |Being established  |0             |
|7.    |Gujarat                       |1                  |5             |
|8.    |Haryana                       |1                  |2             |
|9.    |Himachal Pradesh              |1                  |0             |
|10.   |Jammu & Kashmir               |1                  |1             |
|11.   |Jharkhand                     |1                  |0             |
|12.   |Karnataka                     |1                  |4             |
|13.   |Kerala                        |1                  |2             |
|14.   |Madhya Pradesh                |1                  |3             |
|15.   |Maharashtra                   |1                  |4             |
|16.   |Manipur                       |1                  |0             |
|17.   |Meghalaya                     |1                  |0             |
|18.   |Mizoram                       |1                  |0             |
|19.   |Nagaland                      |1                  |0             |
|20.   |Orissa                        |1                  |2             |
|21.   |Punjab                        |1                  |0             |
|22.   |Rajasthan                     |1                  |3             |
|23.   |Sikkim                        |0                  |1             |
|24.   |Tamil Nadu                    |1                  |9             |
|25.   |Tripura                       |1                  |0             |
|26.   |Uttar Pradesh                 |1                  |2             |
|27.   |Uttarakhand                   |1                  |0             |
|28.   |West Bengal                   |1                  |2             |
|                                                                       |
|UNION TERRITORIES                                                      |
|      |Andaman and Nicobar Islands   |1                  |0             |
|      |Chandigarh                    |0                  |0             |
|      |Dadra & Nagar Haveli          |0                  |0             |
|      |Daman & Diu                   |0                  |0             |
|      |Lakshadweep                   |0                  |0             |
|      |NCT of Delhi                  |1                  |0             |
|      |Puducherry                    |0                  |0             |
|      |TOTAL                         |28                 |52            |


18. A  qualitative  and  quantitative  overhaul  of  these  laboratories  is
   necessary for ameliorating the present state of affairs,  for  which,  we
   are issuing the following directions:


           i) The Centre must ensure equal access to CFSL’s from  different
              parts of the country. The current four CFSL’s only  cater  to
              the needs of northern and some areas of western  and  eastern
              parts of the country. Therefore, besides  the  three  in  the
              pipeline, more CFSL’s  must  be  established,  especially  to
              cater to the needs of  southern  and  eastern  parts  of  the
              country.
          ii)  Analogous directions  are  issued  to  the  states.  Several
              states  do  not  possess  any  existing   infrastructure   to
              facilitate analysis of samples and are  hence,  compelled  to
              send them to laboratories in other parts of the  country  for
              scrutiny. Therefore, each  state  is  required  to  establish
              state level and regional level forensic science laboratories.
              However, the decision as to the numbers of such  laboratories
              would depend on the backlog of cases in the state.

19. The above mentioned  authorities  must  ensure  adequate  employment  of
   technical staff  and  provision  of  facilities  and  resources  for  the
   purposes of proper, smooth and efficient running  of  the  facilities  of
   Forensic Science Laboratories under  them  and  the  Laboratories  should
   furnish their reports expeditiously to the concerned agencies.

20. The Directorate of Forensic Science Services, Ministry of Home  Affairs,
   must take special steps to ensure standardization of equipment across the
   various forensic laboratories to prevent vacillating results and disallow
   a litigant an opportunity to challenge test results on that basis.


E. Personnel

21. We have also been apprised of the following vacancies  at  three  CFSLs,
   namely Chandigarh, Kolkata and Hyderabad.


|Posts         |Sanctioned     |Filled      |Vacant       |
|Scientific    |99             |64          |35           |
|Technical     |45             |40          |05           |

Shortage of staff is bound to hamper with the smooth  functioning  of  these
laboratories, and hence, we  direct  the  Directorate  of  Forensic  Science
Services, Ministry of Home Affairs to address the same on an urgent basis.


22. Further, steps must be taken by the  concerned  departments  to  improve
   the quality and expertise of the technical staff, equipment  and  testing
   laboratories.

E. Re-testing Provisions

23. The NDPS Act  itself  does  not  permit  re-sampling  or  re-testing  of
   samples. Yet, there has been a trend to the contrary;  NDPS  courts  have
   been  consistently  obliging  to  applications  for  re-testing  and  re-
   sampling. These applications add to delays as they are often received  at
   advanced stages of trials after significant elapse of time.  NDPS  courts
   seem to be permitting re-testing nonetheless by taking resort  to  either
   some High Court judgments [See: State of Kerala Vs. Deepak.  P.  Shah[5];
   Nihal Khan Vs. The State (Govt. of NCT Delhi)[6]] or perhaps to  Sections
   79 and 80 of the NDPS Act which permit application of  the  Customs  Act,
   1962 and the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940. While re-testing  may  be  an
   important right of an accused, the haphazard manner in which the right is
   imported from other legislations without its  accompanying  restrictions,
   however, is impermissible. Under the NDPS Act, re-testing and re-sampling
   is rampant at every stage of the trial  contrary  to  other  legislations
   which define  a  specific  time-frame  within  which  the  right  may  be
   available. Besides, reverence must also be given to  the  wisdom  of  the
   Legislature when it expressly omits a provision, which otherwise  appears
   as a standard one in other legislations. The Legislature, unlike for  the
   NDPS Act, enacted Section 25(4) of the Drugs  and  Cosmetics  Act,  1940,
   Section 13(2) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954  and  Rule
   56 of the Central Excise Rules, 1944, permitting a time period of thirty,
   ten and twenty days  respectively  for  filing  an  application  for  re-
   testing




24. Hence, it is imperative to define re-testing rights, if at  all,  as  an
   amalgamation of the above- stated factors. Further, in light  of  Section
   52A of the NDPS Act, which  permits  swift  disposal  of  some  hazardous
   substances, the time frame within which any  application  for  re-testing
   may be permitted ought to be strictly defined. Section 52A  of  the  NDPS
   Act reads as follows: -

           “52A. Disposal of seized narcotic drugs and psychotropic
           substances

           (1) The Central Government may, having regard to  the  hazardous
           nature of any narcotic drugs or psychotropic  substances,  their
           vulnerability to  theft,  substitution,  constraints  of  proper
           storage  space  or  any  other   relevant   considerations,   by
           notification published in the  Official  Gazette,  specify  such
           narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances or class  of  narcotic
           drugs or class of psychotropic substances which shall,  as  soon
           as may be after their seizure, be disposed of  by  such  officer
           and in such manner as that Government may  from  time  to  time,
           determine after following the procedure herein- after specified.


           (2) Where any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance  has  been
           seized and forwarded to the officer- in- charge of  the  nearest
           police station or to the officer empowered under section 53, the
           officer referred  to  in  sub-  section  (1)  shall  prepare  an
           inventory of such  narcotic  drugs  or  psychotropic  substances
           containing such details relating to their description,  quality,
           quantity,  mode  of  packing,  marks,  numbers  or  such   other
           identifying particulars of the narcotic  drugs  or  psychotropic
           substances or the packing in which they are packed,  country  of
           origin and other particulars as the officer referred to in  sub-
           section (1)  may  consider  relevant  to  the  identity  of  the
           narcotic drugs or psychotropic  substances  in  any  proceedings
           under this Act and make an application, to  any  Magistrate  for
           the purpose of—


           (a) certifying the correctness of the inventory so prepared; or


           (b) taking, in the presence of such magistrate,  photographs  of
           such drugs or substances  and  certifying  such  photographs  as
           true; or


           (c) allowing to draw representative samples  of  such  drugs  or
           substances, in the presence of such  magistrate  and  certifying
           the correctness of any list of samples so drawn.


           (3) Where an application is made under  sub-  section  (2),  the
           Magistrate shall, as soon as may be, allow the application.


           (4) Notwithstanding anything contained in  the  Indian  Evidence
           Act, 1872 (1 of 1872 ), or the Code of Criminal Procedure,  1973
           (2 of 1974 ), every court trying  an  offence  under  this  Act,
           shall treat the inventory, the photographs of narcotic drugs  or
           psychotropic substances and any list of samples drawn under sub-
           section (2) and certified by the Magistrate, as primary evidence
           in respect of such offence.”




25. Therefore, keeping in mind the array  of  factors  discussed  above,  we
   direct that, after the completion of necessary  tests  by  the  concerned
   laboratories, results of the  same  must  be  furnished  to  all  parties
   concerned with the matter.  Any  requests  as  to  re-testing/re-sampling
   shall not be entertained under the NDPS Act as a matter of course.  These
   may, however, be permitted, in extremely exceptional  circumstances,  for
   cogent reasons to be recorded by the Presiding Judge. An  application  in
   such rare cases must be made within a  period  of  fifteen  days  of  the
   receipt of the test report; no  applications  for  re-testing/re-sampling
   shall  be  entertained  thereafter.  However,  in  the  absence  of   any
   compelling circumstances, any form of re-testing/re-sampling is  strictly
   prohibited under the NDPS Act.

G. Monitoring



26. A monitoring agency is pivotal for the  effective  management  of  these
   recommendations and for the general amelioration of the state of affairs.
   Therefore, it is directed that nodal officers be  appointed  in  all  the
   departments dealing with the NDPS cases, for monitoring the  progress  of
   investigation and  trial.  This  nodal  officer  must  be  equivalent  or
   superior to the rank of Superintendent of Police, who shall  ensure  that
   the trial is not delayed on account  of  non-supply  of  documents,  non-
   availability of the witnesses, or for any other reason.


27.  We have also learnt from the Narcotics Control Bureau  that  some  form
   of informational asymmetry is prevalent with respect to the communication
   of the progress of cases between courts and  the  department.  
Therefore,
   there must be one Pairvi Officer or other such officer for each court who
   shall report the day’s proceedings to the nodal officer assigned for that
   court.

H. Public Prosecutors




28. Public prosecutors play the most important role  in  the  administration
   of justice.
Their quality is thus of profound importance to the speed and
   outcome of trials. We have been informed that Special Public  Prosecutors
   for the Central Bureau of Narcotics are appointed by the Ministry of Home
   Affairs after scrutiny by  the  Ministry  of  Law  and  Justice,  on  the
   recommendation of the District and Sessions Judge concerned.
We  suggest
   that the procedure of appointment, placed before us, be brought  in  line
   with that generally followed for the appointment of  public  prosecutors,
   as mandated under Section 24 of the Code  of  Criminal  Procedure,  1973.
   However, for the present, we direct that the District and Sessions  Judge
   shall make recommendations for such appointments in consultation with the
   Administrative  Judge/Portfolio  Judge/Inspecting  Judge,   incharge   of
   looking after the administration of the concerned Sessions Division.

I. Other Recommendations.
29. Delays are caused due to demands of compliance with Section 207  of  the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 which reads as follows:-

           “207. Supply to the accused of copy of police report  and  other
           documents. In any case where the proceeding has been  instituted
           on a police report, the Magistrate shall without  delay  furnish
           to the accused, free of cost, a copy of each of the following:-

           (i) the police report;
           (ii) the first information report recorded under   section 154;
           (iii) the statements recorded under sub- section (3) of  section
           161 of all persons whom the prosecution proposes to  examine  as
           its witnesses, excluding therefrom any part in regard to which a
           request for such exclusion has been made by the  police  officer
           under sub- section (6) of section 173;
           (iv) the confessions and  statements,  if  any,  recorded  under
           section 164;
           (v) any other document or relevant extract thereof forwarded  to
           the Magistrate with the police report under sub- section (5)  of
           section 173:


           Provided that the Magistrate may, after perusing any  such  part
           of a statement as is referred to in clause (iii) and considering
           the reasons given by the police officer for the request,  direct
           that a copy of that part of the statement  or  of  such  portion
           thereof as the Magistrate thinks proper, shall be  furnished  to
           the accused:


           Provided further that if the Magistrate is  satisfied  that  any
           document referred to in clause  (v)  is  voluminous,  he  shall,
           instead of furnishing the accused with a  copy  thereof,  direct
           that he will only be allowed to inspect it either personally  or
           through pleader in Court.”




For the simplification of the above detailed process,  
we  direct  that  the
filing of the charge- sheet and supply  of  other  documents  must  also  be provided in electronic form. 
However, this direction must not be treated  as
a substitute for hard copies of the same which are indispensable  for  court proceedings.


30. We expect and hope that the aforesaid directions shall be complied  with
   by the Central Government, State Governments and the  Union  Territories,
   as the case may be, expeditiously and in the spirit that these have  been
   made.

31. Before parting, we place on record our deep appreciation  for  the  able
   assistance rendered to us by the learned  Additional  Solicitor  General;
   amicus curiae; Mr. Utkarsh Saxena, Law Clerk-cum-Research  Assistant  and
   all the officers who were requested to participate in the deliberations.

32. The matter stands closed.



      |                      |                                                |
|                      |……..………………………………….                              |
|                      |              (D.K. JAIN, J.)                   |
|                      |                                                |
|                      |                                                |
|                      |……..………………………………….                              |
|                      |             (JAGDISH SINGH KHEHAR, J.)         |
|NEW DELHI,            |                                                |
|JANUARY 23, 2013.     |                                                |




-----------------------
[1]    (1994) 6 SCC 731
[2]    (2002) 10 SCC 529
[3]    96 L. Ed. 183 (1951)

[4]    (1980) 1 SCC 81

[5]     2001 CriLJ 2690
[6]     2007 CriLJ 2074


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