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Saturday, October 12, 2013

sec. 67 NDPS ACT and sec.25 of Evidence Act - whether the Officer are Police Officer and whether the officers can record a confessional statement from the Accused by force= TOFAN SINGH Vs. STATE OF TAMIL NADU published in judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=40880

sec. 67 NDPS ACT and sec.25 of Evidence Act - whether the Officer are Police Officer and whether the officers can record a confessional statement from the Accused by force - due to conflict judgments- referred to larger bench. =

In our view the aforesaid  discussion  necessitates  a  re-look
      into the ratio of Kanhiyalal Case. It is more so when this Court  has
      already doubted the dicta in  Kanhaiyalal  (supra)  in  the  case  of
      Nirmal Singh Pehalwan (2011) 12 SCC 298 wherein after  noticing  both
      Kanhiyalal as well as Noor Aga, this Court observed thus:


           “15.  We also see that the Division Bench  in Kanhaiyalal  case;
           2008 (4) SCC 668; (2008) 2 SCC (Crl.) 474, had not examined  the
           principles  and  the  concepts  underlying   Section 25 of   the
           Evidence Act vis.-a-vis.  Section 108 of  the  Customs  Act  the
           powers of Custom Officer who could  investigate  and  bring  for
           trial an accused in a narcotic  matter.  The  said  case  relied
           exclusively on the judgment  in Raj  Kumar's  case (Supra).  
The
           latest judgment in point of time is Noor  Aga's  case which  has
           dealt very elaborately with this matter. 
We thus feel  it  would
           be proper for us to follow the ratio of  the  judgment  in  Noor
           Aga's case particularly as the provisions of  Section 50 of  the
           Act which are mandatory have also not been complied with.”

whether the officer investigating the matter  under  NDPS
      Act    would    qualify     as     police     officer     or     not.

whether  the
      statement recorded by the investigating officer under Section  67  of
      the Act can be treated as confessional statement or not, even if  the
      officer is not treated as police officer also needs to be referred to
      the larger Bench, inasmuch as it is intermixed with a  facet  of  the
      1st issue as to  whether  such  a  statement  is  to  be  treated  as
      statement under Section 161 of the Code or it partakes the  character
      of statement under Section 164 of the Code.

In so  far
      as Section 108 of the Customs Act is concerned, it gives power to the
      custom officer to summon  persons  “to  give  evidence”  and  produce
      documents. 
Identical power  is  conferred  upon  the  Central  Excise
      Officer under Section 14 of the Act.
 However, the wording to  Section
      67 of the NDPS Act is altogether different. 
This difference has  been
      pointed out by Andhra Pradesh High Court in the Case of  Shahid  Khan
      vs. Director of Revenue Intelligence;  2001  (Criminal  Law  Journal)
      3183.


      42.   The Registry is accordingly directed to place the matter before Hon’ble the Chief Justice for the decision of this appeal by a larger  Bench after considering the issues specifically referred as above.


We find from the record that as  against  the  sentence  of  10

      years awarded to the appellant he has already undergone more  than  9
      years of sentence. In these circumstances, we deem it a fit  case  to
      suspend further sentence till the disposal  of  this  appeal  by  the
      larger Bench. The appellant shall be released on bail  on  furnishing
      security in the sum of Rs.50,000/-  (Rupees Fifty Thousand) with  two
      sureties of the same amount, to the satisfaction of the trial court.

                                [REPORTABLE]


                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA


                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


                       CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 152 OF 2013






      TOFAN SINGH                                   ….APPELLANT


                                   VERSUS


      STATE OF TAMIL NADU                                ….RESPONDENT






                               J U D G M E N T






      A.K. Sikri, J






     1. The appellant herein, Tofan Singh, was listed as Accused No.  3  in
        the trial for the offences under Section 8(c) r/w Section 21 (c) of
        the  Narcotic  Drugs  and   Psychotropic   Substances   Act,   1985
        (hereinafter to be referred as the NDPS Act) as  well  as  for  the
        offences under Section 8(c) r/w Section 29 of the  NDPS  Act.
This
        trial, conducted by the Special Judge,  Additional  Special  Court,
        under  NDPS  Act,  Chennai,  resulted  in  the  conviction  of  the
        appellant holding him guilty of the offences  under  the  aforesaid
        provisions of the Act.
As a consequence of the said judgment  dated
        18.12.2009 convicting him under the provisions of the NDPS Act, the
        learned Special Judge sentenced the appellant to undergo  10  years
        rigorous imprisonment and to pay a fine of Rs. one lakh.
In default
        whereof, it was ordered that the appellant would  undergo  rigorous
        imprisonment for a further period of one year.
 Identical  sentences
        were imposed for the offences under Section 8 (c) read with Section
        21 & 29 of the NDPS Act, 1985 with  the  direction  that  both  the
        sentences had to be undergone by the appellant concurrently.


     2. Appeal filed by the appellant against  the  order  of  the  Special
        Judge, Addl. Special Court, has been dismissed by the High Court of
        Judicature  at  Madras  vide  judgment  dated   18.6.2012   thereby
        maintaining the conviction as well as the sentence awarded  by  the
        Special  Judge,  Addl.  Special  Court  under  NDPS  Act,  Chennai.
     
Dissatisfied and undeterred by the judgments of the  Courts  below,
        the appellant preferred the Special Leave  Petition  in  which  the
        leave was granted on 18.1.2013.
However, at  the  same  time,  bail
        application preferred by the appellant was rejected and appeal  was
        posted for hearing.
This is how the present appeal  arises  against
        the  impugned  judgment  dated  18.6.2012  of  the  High  Court  of
        Judicature at Madras.


     3. The allegations against the appellant (along with five others out of
        whom two are absconding) were that 5.250 Kgs of heroin  was  seized
        from these accused persons which they were carrying and  attempting
        to export  out  of  India.  
As  per  the  complaint  filed  by  the
        Intelligence Officer, NCB, Chennai in this behalf, the  prosecution
        case is stated, in a summary form, as below:-


      4.    On 23.10.2004, the Intelligence Officer, NCB, South  Zone  Unit,
      Mr. L.S. Aruldoss (PW-7), received information at about 9.00 p.m. that
   
one Prem @ Kannan @ Sudeshwaran resident of Nanganallur,  Chennai  was
      procuring Narcotic Drugs from Guddu Singh resident of  Rajasthan  with
      the assistance of one  Bapulal  resident  of  Pattalam,  Chennai,  for
      trafficking it from  Chennai  to  Srilanka  and
that  they  had  made
      arrangements for the supply of  5  Kgs.  of  heroin  through  his  two
      persons, who were identified to Bapulal by Guddusingh  and  those  two
      persons were arriving at Chennai on the next day by Jaipur Express.
It
      was further reported that the said Bapulal and Kannan had  planned  to
      leave at 10.00 p.m. on 23.10.2004 to Nellore,  Andhra  Pradesh,  in  a
      white Ambassador Car  bearing  Registration  No.  TN-01-K0923  and  on
      reaching Chennai, Prem @ Kannan @ Sudeshwaran would receive the heroin
      and smuggle it out to Srilanka.


      5.          After receiving the information, Mr.  L.S.  Aruldoss,  the
      Intelligence Officer (PW-7) discussed the matter with  other  officers
      namely Mr.  Gunabalan  (PW-6)  and  Mr.  A.  Sendhil  Murugan  (PW-10)
      resulting into the orders by Mr. Gunabalan (PW-6) to proceed with  the
      case.
Accordingly, on 24.10.2004, at about 9.00  a.m.,  P.W.6,  P.W.7,
      and P.W.10 and two other staff members viz., one Sepoy and Driver left
      NCB Office and reached the scene of occurrence at 11.00  a.m.
On  the
      instruction of P.W.6, P.W.7 procured two independent witnesses viz. S.
      Gopi (P.W.8) and one Krishnamurthy (not  examined).
They  intercepted
      the Ambassador Car bearing Registration No. TN-01-K0923 and found that
      there were six passengers inside the car.
On  the  front  seat,  there
      were two drivers namely, Satyakeerthi and Mariappan and next to driver
      Mariappan, the appellant herein was sitting.
On the back seat  Prem  @
      Kannan @ Sudeshwaran (Accused No. 2) of Srilanka, Bapulal (Accused No.
      1) of Chennai & Badrilal Sharma (Accused No. 4) were seated.
After the
      police party enquired as to whether there  were  any  Narcotic  Drugs,
      Accused No. 1 & 2 who were seated on the back seat, took out one green
      colour bag from beneath their seat and handed it over to Mr.  Aruldoss
      (P.W.7) stating that it contains 5  Kgs.  of  heroin.
The  recoveries
      were, thereafter, effected and the accused persons were  arrested  for
      commission of offences under the NDPS Act.  
The  two  drivers  of  the
      ambassador car were, thereafter, allowed to go. 
The appellant and  the
      other accused persons were arrested by the raiding party.


      6.          While the four accused  persons  including  the  appellant
      were arrested, the other two accused namely Guddu Singh @ Vikram Singh
      and Ravi could not be arrested and were absconding.
The statements  of
      the arrested accused persons were recorded by Mr. A. Sendhil  Murugan,
      Intelligence Officer.
The appellant  also  gave  his  statement  under Section 67 of the NDPS Act as per which he confessed to the commission of the crime.


      7.          The case was, thereafter, handed over to  Mr.  R.  Murugan
      (P.W.2) for investigation.  After  completing  the  investigation,  he
      filed a report under Section 173 of the Code  of  Criminal  Procedure,
      1973 before the Special Judge under NDPS Act. Charges were framed  and
      the matter went on trial. The  prosecution  examined  as  many  as  10
      witnesses. Among them were Mr. L.S. Aruldoss -  Intelligence  Officer,
      NCB (P.W.7), Mr. Gunabalan – Superintendent (P.W.6),  Mr.  A.  Sendhil
      Murugan  (P.W.10),   Mr.   R.   Murugan   (P.W.2),   Smt.   Saraswathy
      Chakravarthy, Chemical Examiner in Customs House Laboratory at Chennai
      (P.W.4), Mr. T. Sridhar (P.W.5).


      8.          The information relating to the commission of the  offence
      has been taken note of and discussed by the Trial Court as well as the
      High Court in the impugned judgment in detail. It is not necessary  to
      burden this judgment with all those details as our  purpose  would  be
      served by referring to those  aspects  which  are  essential  for  the
      purposes of the present appeal. We may state that the prosecution  had
      also produced Exs. P1 to P81 and M.Os 1 to 19 during the trial.
After
      examining the prosecution witnesses, statements of the accused persons
      under Section 313 of the Code of Civil Procedure  (hereinafter  to  be
      referred as ‘Code’)were recorded.
The accused persons denied the same
      and stated as follows:


           A-1:  Denied the incriminating evidence against him  and  stated
                 that he was compelled to come to the NCB Office and a false
                 case is foisted against him and gave  a  written  statement
                 stating that the NCB officers came  to  his  house  between
                 12.30 to 1.00 p.m. on 25.10.2004  and  took  him  to  their
                 office at Chennai in the  presence  of  his  wife  and  his
                 children and have forcibly taken  the  signatures  on  some
                 papers written in Hindi and that he is not  connected  with
                 the other accused and that he was not occupant of  the  Car
                 as alleged in  the  case  and  he  was  not  aware  of  the
                 contraband seized and examined  defence  witnesses  on  his
                 behalf  namely  Mr.  Vinay,  son  of  A-1,  D.W.1  and  Dr.
                 Somasundaram D.W.2.






           A-2:  Denying the incriminating evidence against him stated that
                 he was taken from Nanganallur to the NCB Office and that he
                 was not allowed to talk before the Judge during remand.






           A-3:  Stated that summon was not issued to him and  Rs.  1,600/-
                 and train tickets were seized from him at  Chennai  Central
                 Railway Station and he was beaten and forced to sign in the
                 NCB office on blank papers and stated that it  is  a  false
                 case.






           A-4:  Stated that he was arrested  at  Nellore  Railway  Station
                 while he was coming from  train  and  his  signatures  were
                 obtained  forcibly  and  the   Intelligence   Officer   Mr.
                 Karthikeyan (P.W.3) has foisted a false  case  against  him
                 due  to  quarrel  in  the  train  between   him   and   the
                 Intelligence Officer and that he was working in the RPF and
                 is not connected with the  contraband  seized  and  gave  a
                 written statement stating that he travelled in mufti to  go
                 to Tirupathy  and  got  down  at  Chennai  Central  Railway
                 Station and was arrested and false case was foisted against
                 him due to wordy quarrel with the officer and that  Section
                 67 statement was obtained by force and torture and that  he
                 was not carrying any Narcotic Drug.






                  Thereafter, the accused persons produced two witnesses who
      were examined and one document Ex. D1 was marked.










       9.   Defence evidence is as follows:-


           DW.1:  The NCB Officers came at about 1.00 p.m on 25.10.2004 and
                    searched  the  house  of  A-1  and  they  obtained  his
                  signature and his mother’s signature in blank  papers  by
                  threatening  them.  A-2  has  not  gone  anywhere  during
                  September and October of 2004 and he was  at  home  doing
                  cloth  business.  A-1  was  taken  from  his  office  and
                  arrested. The other accused had never contacted A-2  over
                  phone at any time.






           DW.2:  Dr. Somasundaram has recommended A-1  for  treatment  for
                  Paralysis at  Royapettah  Hospital  and  his  case  sheet
                  containing 21 pages for treatment from January,  2008  to
                  25.9.2008 is Ex. D.1.






      10.   It would be relevant to point that two of  the  accused  persons
      namely Guddu Singh @ Vikram Singh and Ravi were  absconding  and  they
      could not be procured during the trial, resulting into splitting up of
      case as new C.C. No.  9  of  2007.
Thereafter,  the  trial  proceeded
      against the other four accused persons which led to their  conviction,
      as mentioned above.
All these  four  accused  persons  had  filed  the
      appeal which has been dismissed by the High  Court  of  Judicature  at
      Madras vide impugned Judgment.
However,  out  of  the  four  convicted
      persons, only the appellant herein has preferred the present appeal.










      JUDGMENT OF THE TRIAL COURT:


      11.   The learned Trial Court in its judgment dated 18.12.2009,  after
      pointing out the main prosecution evidence as  well  as  the  defence,
      noted that the gist of the prosecution case was that the  six  accused
      persons had hatched criminal conspiracy at  Nellore,  Andhra  Pradesh,
      Chennai and Srilanka to procure, possess,  transport  and  attempt  to
      export out of India 5.250 Kgs. of heroin to Srilanka.  Accused  No.  2
      had indulged in financing for purchase of heroin for which he  entered
      India without registering himself as a foreigner.  The  heroin,  which
      was seized, was being taken for the said export which was  intercepted
      in the manner stated below:-


           “As per the prosecution, after the information was  received  by
           Mr. L.S. Aruldoss, Intelligence Officer  (P.W.9)  on  23.10.2004
           and discussed with Mr. Gunabalan, Superintendent (P.W.6) and Mr.
           A. Sendhil Murugan, Intelligence Officer  (P.W.10)  and  further
           action was sanctioned, the raiding  party  consisting  of  PW.6,
           PW.7, PW.10 with Sepoy and driver, left the NCB  office  in  the
           vehicle Mini Bus bearing  Registration  No.  TN  09  C  3113  on
           24.10.2004 at 9.00 a.m  and  had  reached  GNT  Road  100’  Road
           Junction at 11.00 a.m. Two independent witnesses namely, Mr.  S.
           Gopi (P.W.8) and Krishnamurthy were also associated.  When  they
           were mounting surveillance at about  12.00  noon,  they  noticed
           Ambassador Car bearing Regd. No. TN 01  K  0923  coming  towards
           Chennai which was intercepted by the raiding authority  and  the
           heroin in question seized in the manner already explained above.
           The case argued by  the  prosecution  was  that  the  conspiracy
           hatched between Accused No. 1 to 4 was proved by the seizure  of
           Ex. P-4 train ticket PNR No. 840-7161615 dt. 14.10.2004 and  Ex.
           P-41 the booking particulars disclose the name of A-2,  A-2  and
           Rajesh and the place of travel from Mumbai to madras and another
           passenger name through it was  mentioned  in  it  was  given  as
           Shahid by A-1 in his further voluntary statement in Hindi Ex. P-
           6 of which the free English translation is Ex. P-77 in which  it
           is stated that Shahid is the person through whom money was  sent
           to Guddu Singh which in fact is within the special knowledge  of
           A-1. In the same manner Ex. P-5 telephone bills were seized from
           the residence of A-1 and when  A-21  was  questioned  about  the
           telephone numbers Faroth and Sarola A-2 has stated in  Ex.  P-77
           that these numbers belong to Guddu Singh and his brother through
           which he used to talk about smuggling of heroin. In the  English
           translation of voluntary statement of A-3, Ex. P-78 of which the
           Hindi version is Ex. P-10 it is stated that A-3 met Guddu  Singh
           who introduced him to A-4 and told him that A-4  is  working  in
           RPF, Bhawani Mandi, Rajasthan and that A-4 would travel with him
           in uniform in Jaipur Chennai  Express  and  handed  over  a  bag
           containing 5 Kgs. of heroin stating that  it  should  be  handed
           over to A-1 at Nellore who was  already  introduced  to  A-3  on
           13.10.2004. The version of A-3 in Ex. P-78 that he travelled  in
           Jaipur Chennai Express from  Shamgarh  is  corroborated  by  the
           seizure of two train tickets Ex. P-61 and Ex. P-62 from Shamgarh
           to Chennai from A-3 and I.D. Card of A-4 Ex. P-63 discloses that
           A-3 was working in RPF. Ex. P-79 is the voluntary statement of A-
           4 which is free english translation of the  hindi  statement  of
           Ex. P-74 in which A-  has stated that he boarded Jaipur  Express
           on 22.10.2004 and met A-3 in Bhopal in the  train  and  that  he
           knew that A-3 brought Narcotic Drug with him.  Conspiracy  could
           be proved only through the conduct of the accused. A-3  and  A-4
           had travelled with the contraband in the train and have met  A-1
           and A-2 at Nellore and handed over the same and boarded  in  the
           ambassador car only due to the  previous  meeting  of  minds  by
           fixing the time and place of handing over the contraband to  the
           concerned accused. From the proved conduct of A-1 to A-4  it  is
           clear  that  they  have  involved  themselves  in  the   illegal
           trafficking of heroin. Ex. P-21  call  analysis  discloses  that
           07425-284050 in the name of Bhuvan Singh of M.P. was  frequently
           in touch with A-2 and A-2 mobile numbers A-1  in  his  voluntary
           statement Ex. P-2 has stated that Guddu Singh Number  is  07425-
           284050 through which he used to contact  A-3  and  Guddu  Singh.
           Hence, the prosecution contended that the charges against A-1 to
           A-4 for possession transportation  of  heroin  for  Export  from
           India and Conspiracy U/s. 8(c)  r/2. 21 (c) and 29 of  NDPS  Act
           were well proved.”






      12.   In so far as the charge under Section 28  of  the  NDPS  Act  is
      concerned, the trial court held that the said charge  was  not  proved
      against the accused persons, in as much as at the stage of preparation
      to commit the offence of illegal export of  contraband,  the  car  was
      intercepted and search and seizure conducted  which  resulted  in  the
      recovery  of  the  contraband.  As  such,  the  accused  persons  were
      apprehended in the middle of the operation and since  the  attempt  to
      commit the offence of export had not yet begun, it could not  be  said
      that the  accused  persons  had  committed  any  act  which  could  be
      considered as a step towards the commission of offence  of  export  of
      the contraband. The accused  persons  were,  thus,  acquitted  of  the
      charge under Section 28 of the NDPS Act.


      13.   Likewise, the trial court held that charge under Section 27A  of
      the NDPS Act foisted upon the accused No. 2 was not proved as no  oral
      or documentary evidence was produced in the form of Bank Pass Book  or
      income particulars  or  documents  regarding  the  money  transactions
      between the seller and the purchaser of heroin. 
Moreover, there was no
      oral or documentary evidence to show that the Accused No. 2 had failed
      to register himself as a foreigner or that he had entered  into  India
      without valid and legal documents and thus, he was  acquitted  of  the
      charge under Section 3(3) of the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920
      read with Rule 3 (a) as well as under Section  14  of  the  Foreigners
      Act, 1946.

      14.   While discussing the main charge leveled under Section 8(c) read
      with Section 21(c) and 29 of the NDPS Act, the trial court noted  that
      the defence counsel had sought for discard of the prosecution case  on
      the following grounds:
           (i)   Voluntary statement recorded under Section 67 of the  NDPS
                 Act had been retracted and  so,  they  had  no  evidentiary
                 value.


           (ii)  There was violation of Section 50 of the NDPS Act as there
                 was non-compliance of the provisions thereof .


           (iii) Driver of the vehicle was not examined which was fatal  to
                 the prosecution case.


           (iv)  Sample sent for analysis and the  seized  contraband  were
                 not one and the same.


           (v)   There was no link evidence which vitiated the trial.


           (vi)  Names of Accused No. 3 (the appellant) and Accused  No.  4
                 were not mentioned in the information which was received by
                 the Intelligence Officer and, therefore, they were  wrongly
                 included in the charge sheet.


           (vii) There was a violation of standing order 1/88 in as much as
                 samples were not submitted to the Chemical Examiner  within
                 72 hours of seizure and the report was not submitted within
                 15 days of receipt of contraband for analysis.


           (viii)      Statements under Section 67  were  not  recorded  in
                 accordance with law, as no statutory warning under  Section
                 164 of the Code of Criminal  Procedure  was  given  to  the
                 accused persons before recording the statement.




      15.   The trial  court  discussed  the  arguments  predicated  on  the
      aforesaid defence but found the same to be meaningless. On  the  basis
      of  prosecution  evidence,  the  trial  court   concluded   that   the
      prosecution was able to prove the charges under Section 8(c) read with
      Section 21(c) and Section  29  of  the  NDPS  Act  and  convicted  and
      sentenced the accused persons in the manner mentioned in the beginning
      of this judgment.


      JUDGMENT OF THE HIGH COURT:


      16.   A perusal of the impugned judgment reveals that as many  as  six
      arguments were advanced before the High Court, attacking the  findings
      of the learned Trial Court. Taking note of these  grounds  of  appeal,
      the High Court framed the questions in Para 12  of  the  judgment.  We
      reproduce hereinbelow those six questions formulated by the High Court
      which reflected the nature of defence:

           (i)   Whether Section 50 of NDPS Act is complied with or not?


           (ii)  Whether the  provision  of  Section  42  of  NDPS  Act  is
                 complied with or not?


           (iii) Whether non-examination  of  drivers  and  non-seizure  of
                 vehicle/ car are fatal to the case of the prosecution?


           (iv)  Whether Section 67 statement of the accused is reliable?


           (v)   Whether Accused No. 2 is entitled to invoke Section 30  of
                 NDPS Act?


           (vi)  Whether conviction and sentence passed by the trial  court
                 is sustainable.




      17.   Obviously, all these questions have been answered  by  the  High
      Court against the appellant herein as the outcome of the  appeals  has
      gone against the appellant. However, it is not  necessary  to  mention
      the reasons/ rationale given by the  High  Court  in  support  of  its
      conclusion in respect of each and every issue. We say  so  because  of
      the reason that all  the  aforesaid  contentions  were  not  canvassed
      before us in the present appeal. Thus, eschewing the discussion  which
      is not relevant for these appeals, we would be narrating  the  reasons
      contained in the impugned judgment only in respect  of  those  grounds
      which are argued by Mr. Sushil Kumar Jain, learned  Counsel  appearing
      for the appellant, that too while taking  note  of  and  dealing  with
      those arguments.


      THE ARGUMENTS:


      18.   After giving brief description of the prosecution  case,  in  so
      far as the alleged involvement of  the  appellant  is  concerned.  Mr.
      Sushil Kumar Jain drew our attention to the following aspects  as  per
      the prosecution case itself:

           (a)   In the present case in the prior secret  information  with
                 the police, there was no prior information with  regard  to
                 the appellant herein. The  secret  information  (Ex.  P-72)
                 does not disclose the name of the appellant at all.

           (b)   On the date of incident  also,  the  appellant  was  found
                 sitting on the front seat alongwith  the  two  drivers  who
                 have been let off by the investigating  agency  itself  and
                 the ambassador car  from  which  the  recoveries  had  been
                 effected has also not been seized. The said  drivers  could
                 have been  the  best  witnesses  but  they  have  not  been
                 examined by the prosecution.

           (c)   The recovery of the narcotic substance  was  made  at  the
                 instance of A1 and A2 (and not the appellant  herein),  who
                 while sitting on the back seat took out a green colour  bag
                 from beneath their seat and handed it  over  to  PW.7.  The
                 appellant cannot be said to be in conscious  possession  of
                 the narcotic substance.

           (d)   In the search  conducted  of  the  appellant  herein,  the
                 raiding party found Indian currency of Rs. 680/- (vide  Ex.
                 P-11) which is M.O. 15 and two second class  train  tickets
                 from Shamgarh to Chennai. Thus  no  incriminating  material
                 has been recovered from the  appellant.  Further  there  is
                 also no recovery of any mobile  phone  from  the  appellant
                 herein which could link the appellant with  the  other  co-
                 accused.

           (e)   The prosecution case hinges solely upon  the  confessional
                 statement of the appellant  herein  (Ex.  P-9),  which  was
                 recorded by PW.2 – R. Murugan under Section 67 of the  Act,
                 and the same person acted as the investigating  officer  in
                 the present case.





      19.   From the above, Mr. Jain argued that there was no evidence worth
      the name implicating the appellant except the  purported  confessional
      statement of the appellant recorded under Section 67 of the NDPS  Act.
      After drawing the aforesaid  sketch,  Mr.  Jain  endeavoured  to  fill
      therein the colours of  innocence  in  so  far  as  the  appellant  is
      concerned with the following legal submissions:-


           (I)   It was argued that the  conviction  of  the  appellant  is
           based upon a purported confessional statement (Ex. P-9] recorded
           by PW.2 R. Murugan under the provisions of  Section  67  of  the
           NDPS Act, which did not have any  evidentiary  value.  Mr.  Jain
           submitted in this behalf that:






                 (a)   There is no power under Section 67 of the NDPS Act to
           either record confessions or substantive evidence which can form
           basis for conviction of an accused, in as much as:






                (i)    The scheme of the Act does not confer any power upon
                       an officer  empowered  under  Section  42  to  record
                       confessions since neither a specific power to  record
                       confession has been conferred as was  provided  under
                       Section 15 of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities
                       (Prevention) Act, 1987 (TADA) or under Section 32  of
                       the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 (POTA) nor  the
                       power  under  Section  67  is  a  power   to   record
                       substantive “evidence”  as  in  Section  108  of  the
                       Customs Act or Section 14 of the Central  Excise  Act
                       which  are  deemed  to  be  judicial  proceedings  as
                       specifically provided under  Section  108(4)  of  the
                       Customs Act or Section 14(3) of  the  Central  Excise
                       Act.






                (ii)   The powers under Section 67 has been conferred  upon
                       an officer under Section 42 so that such officer  can
                       effectively perform his functions.  The  power  under
                       Section 67 is incidental to and intended to enable an
                       officer under Section 42 to effectively exercise  his
                       powers of entry, search, seizure or arrest  which  is
                       provided under Section 42  of  the  Act.  The  powers
                       under Section 67 are powers to “call for information”
                       which information can thereafter form the  basis  for
                       satisfaction  of  “reasons  to  believe  by  personal
                       knowledge or information” appearing in Section 42 and
                       which a jurisdictional basis and a  pre-condition  to
                       exercise powers under Section 42 of the Act.  Absence
                       of reasons to believe or information would render the
                       exercise under Section 42 of the Act bad in  law  and
                       hence in order to derive the said  information  power
                       has been conferred under Section  67  to  an  officer
                       empowered  under  Section  42.  This  statement   is,
                       therefore,   merely    “Information”    subject    to
                       investigation and cannot be  treated  as  substantive
                       evidence.






                 (b)   Pitching this argument to  the  next  level,  it  was
                 submitted that the power under Section 67(c) of the Act  is
                 merely a power to examine any person  acquainted  with  the
                 facts and circumstances of the case.  Such  statements  are
                 not required in  law  to  be  truthful  as  provided  under
                 Section  161(2)  of  the  Criminal  Procedure  Code,  which
                 required the person making statement to  a  police  officer
                 under Section 161 Cr.P.C. to make a  true  statement.  Even
                 such a statement made under Section 161 Cr. P.C. is  not  a
                 substantive evidence on which a conviction  can  be  based.
                 Statements under Section 67 are not required in law  to  be
                 given truthfully and hence cannot in any case be treated to
                 be a substantive evidence. Further statement under  Section
                 67 are not recorded after  administration  of  oath  as  is
                 required under Section 164(5)  of  the  Criminal  Procedure
                 Code, the officers are not competent  to  administer  oaths
                 and, therefore, the statements under Section 67  cannot  be
                 substantive evidence for recording conviction.






                 (c)   Taking the arguments to a still higher pedestal,  Mr.
                 Jain’s effort was to demonstrate that the officer recording
                 the statement was a police officer and, therefore,  such  a
                 statement was hit by Section 25 of the Indian Evidence Act.
                 He submitted that an officer empowered under Section 42  of
                 the Act has been conferred with  substantive  powers  which
                 are powers available to a police officer for detection  and
                 prevention of  crime.  The  learned  Counsel  placed  heavy
                 reliance upon the ratio of the judgment of the Constitution
                 Bench of this Court in the case of Batku  Jyoti  Sawat  Vs.
                 State of Mysore 1966 (3) SCC 698 which accepted  a  broader
                 view, as laid down in the case of Rajaram Jaiswal Vs. State
                 of Bihar 1964 (2) SCR 752 and State of  Punjab  Vs.  Barkat
                 Ram 1962 (3) SCR 338. It was submitted that in view of  the
                 ratio of the  above  judgments,  officers  empowered  under
                 Section 42 and conferred  with  powers  to  enter,  search,
                 seize or arrest are “police officers”  properly  so  called
                 and hence statements made to such officers would be hit  by
                 the provisions of Section 25 of the Evidence  Act.  In  any
                 case such officers would come within the  meaning  of  term
                 “person in authority” and hence the statements recorded  by
                 such officers would be hit by the provisions of Section  24
                 of the Evidence Act especially since  the  statements  were
                 not voluntary and had been retracted by the accused.






                 (d)   In the alternate, the submission of Mr. Jain was that
                 even if it is assumed, without admitting, that  Section  67
                 confers powers to  record  confessions,  the  status  of  a
                 statement recorded by an officer under Section  42  of  the
                 Act can at best be recorded as “extra judicial  confession”
                 and no conviction can be based solely on the basis of extra
                 judicial convictions.






                 (e)   It was also argued that in  any  case  the  statement
                 under Section 67 was retracted and as such  the  confession
                 in the present case is a retracted confession  which  ought
                 to have been investigated and could have been used only  to
                 corroborate  other  evidence  and  not  as  a   substantive
                 evidence itself. He submitted that  no  conviction  can  be
                 based on uncorroborated retracted confessional statement as
                 held in Noor Aga Vs. State of Punjab 2008 (9) SCALE 681.






           (II)  Next submission of Mr. Jain was that  there  was  complete
           absence  of  Fair  Investigation  and  Non-compliance   of   the
           provisions of Section 52(3) of the Act-






           Pointing out that in the present case  the  appellant  had  been
      arrested by PW.2 – R. Murugan after recording statement under  Section
      67 of the Act, the ld. Counsel made a fervent plea to the effect  that
      it was evident that PW.2 R. Murugan was  exercising  purported  powers
      conferred to an officer under Section 42 of the Act.
 It was  submitted
      that Section 52(3) of the  Act  casts  an  obligation  on  an  officer
      empowered under Section 42 of the Act to forward, without  unnecessary
      delay every person arrested or article seized to either an officer-in-
      charge of a police station or an officer empowered under  Section  53.
     
According to him, since there is an obligation to forward such  person
      arrested or article seized, to an  officer  under  Section  53  or  an
      officer-in-charge of the police station, it necessarily  follows  that
      an officer under Section 42 would be different and  distinct  from  an
      officer invested with the task  of  investigation,  i.e.,  either  the
      officer-in-charge of the police station or an officer empowered  under
      Section 53 of the Act. In the  present  case,  however,  the  PW.2  R.
      Murugan recorded the statement of the appellant under Section  67  and
      thereafter arrested him. He was, therefore, required  to  forward  the
      statement as well as the appellant to  the  Investigating  officer  in
      terms of Section 52(3). Instead, he himself became  the  Investigating
      Officer in the present  case,  which  amounted  to  non-compliance  of
      Section 52(3) read with Section 58  of  the  Act.
 Fair  investigation
      demands existence of an independent investigating agency which is also
      contemplated and is evident from  the  scheme  of  NDPS  Act.
 It  was
      submitted that since Section 58 of the Act provides for punishment for
      vexatious entry, search,  seizure  and  arrest,  the  conduct  of  the
      officer arresting or an officer under Section 42 is subject matter  of
      investigation by an independent agency and  hence  PW.  2  R.  Murugan
      could not have been made an investigating officer in the present  case
      after he has already acted and exercised powers under  Section  42  of
      the Act.






           (III)  Another  submission  of  Mr.  Jain  was  that  trial  was
           initiated because of Non-compliance of the Provisions of Section
           57 of the Act –


                  It was submitted that Section 57  requires  that  whenever
      any person makes any arrest or seizure under the Act,  then  a  report
      thereof has to be submitted of such arrest or seizure to his immediate
      superior officer. In the present case the raiding party  comprised  of
      PW.6- Gunabalan, Superintendent – PW.7 Aruldoss, Intelligence Officer,
      PW.10 Sendhil  Murugan,  Intelligence  Officer  and  two  other  staff
      members i.e., one Sepoy and one driver.  It  was  submitted  that  the
      senior most officer among the raiding team was PW.6 Gunabalan who was,
      therefore, exercising powers under Section 42 of the Act and the other
      officers being his subordinates were assisting him in exercise of such
      powers. Therefore, the report contemplated under Section 57  ought  to
      have been made by PW.6 Gunabalan to his immediate superior officer but
      instead, in the present case PW.7 Aruldoss has submitted a  report  to
      PW.6 Gunabalan under Section 57 of the Act with regard to seizure  and
      PW.2 R. Murugan has submitted report to PW.6 Gunabalan  under  Section
      57 with regard to  arrest  of  the  appellant  herein.  It  is,  thus,
      submitted that there is a complete non-compliance of the provisions of
      Section 57 of the Act which has vitiated the safeguards provided under
      the Act and as such the appellant could not have been convicted.






      20.   Arguing on behalf of the prosecutor, Mr. S. Nanda Kumar, learned
      Counsel submitted that the appellant  had  given  voluntary  statement
      that discloses his  involvement  in  the  commission  of  the  offence
      alongwith other accused persons. In the statement he has categorically
      admitted having bringing 5.250 kgs of heroin/ narcotic substance  from
      Maniki Village, District Mandsaur, Rajasthan to Chennai  by  Jaipur  –
      Chennai Express along with other co-accused  Badrilal  Sharma  wearing
      RPF Uniform till Nelore, Andhra Pradesh. He has  also  admitted  that,
      thereafter, the other accused namely Guddu Singh @  Vikram  Singh  and
      Bapulal Jain picked them in a car and proceeded to Chennai. It  is  on
      the way that these accused persons were  caught  by  the  respondent’s
      officials and based on  their  confession  as  well  as  the  material
      seized, the case was registered. He also pointed out that it has  come
      on record that Babulal Jain (declared as absconder)  and  Guddu  Singh
      were involved in the similar offence by selling 8 Kgs.  of  heroin  on
      earlier occasions which was handed over to Prem @ Kannan, a  Srilankan
      National, another co-accused in this case. It was the second time that
      the accused persons planned to smuggle the heroin to Srilanka.


      21.   Refuting the submissions of the appellant, it was submitted that
      the confessional statement recorded under Section 67 of the  NDPS  Act
      could be acted upon, as the officer  recording  statement  under  this
      provision under Section 67 is not a “police officer”  and,  therefore,
      such a statement is not hit by the provisions of Section 24 to  27  of
      the Evidence Act or Article 20(3) of the Constitution  of  India.  His
      submission was that law on this aspect had already been settled by the
      judgment of this Court in Kanhaiyalal v. Union of India; 2008 (4)  SCC
      668 as well as Raj Kumar Karwal v. Union of India;  1990(2)  SCC  409.
      The learned Counsel pointed out  that  judgment  relied  upon  by  the
      appellant pertains to other Acts like Customs  Act  etc.  whereas  the
      aforesaid judgments specifically  dealt  with  the  nature  of  duties
      performed by officers under the NDPS Act and, therefore, on this issue
      Raj Kumar (Supra) and Kanhaiyalal (Supra) were the binding precedents.
      He also submitted that as per Section 67  of  NDPS  Act,  any  officer
      referred to in Section 42 of  NDPS  Act  was  empowered  to  obtain  a
      statement. Once the said statement is made it can also be construed as
      confessional statement since there is no specific provision in the Act
      to obtain the confessional statement from the accused. Therefore, such
      a statement of the appellant was rightly relied  upon  resulting  into
      his conviction.


      22.   The learned Counsel for the state also countered the  submission
      of the appellant that the officer acting under Section 53 of the  NDPS
      Act i.e. the investigating officer had  to  be  necessarily  different
      from the officer who is acting under Section 42 of the  NDPS  Act.  He
      submitted that Sections 42, 53 and 67 of  NDPS  Act  do  not  bar  the
      officer  authorized  under  the  act  to  conduct,  search,   seizure,
      investigate and enquire into the matter. His submission was  that  the
      depositions of PW.2 – Murugan, Intelligence Officer, PW.6 – Gunabalan,
      Superintendent and  PW.10  –  Senthil  Murugan,  Intelligence  Officer
      establish that they are empowered to act under Section 42, 53  and  67
      of the NDPS Act.


      23.   The learned Counsel also highlighted incriminating facts as  per
      the  records  viz.  the  raid  team  was  led  by  PW.6  -  Gunabalan,
      Superintendent along with the PW.10 A. Senthil  Murugan,  Intelligence
      Officer  and  one  Aruldoss,  Intelligence  officer.  Also  two  other
      officials conducted the raid and made a  search  and  seizure  of  the
      heroin on 24.10.2004  at  12.00  hrs.  at  GNT  Road,  100  ft.  road,
      Madhavaram in Chennai where the vehicles  come  from  Nellore,  Andhra
      Pradesh towards Chennai Junction. After the seizure,  PW.2  –  Murugan
      enquired into the matter as per the direction of  the  superintendent.
      He also obtained the voluntary statement under Section 67 of the  NDPS
      Act. The accused also gave another statement for supply of  heroin  to
      Guddu Singh.  The  confessional  statement  of  Badrilal  Sharma,  who
      travelled  alongwith  accused/  appellant  was  also   recorded.   The
      confessional statement of absconded accused viz. Babulal Jain is  also
      on the original record. In addition to  that,  the  Identity  Card  of
      Badrilal Sharma and the train tickets of the  appellant  and  Badrilal
      Sharma, as both of them travelled together, have come on  record.  All
      this proves that the appellant was in possession of the  heroin  5.250
      Kgs. and carried it  from  Rajasthan  to  Chennai  with  intention  to
      smuggle the same to Srilanka, when he was caught. He thus pleaded that
      conviction and sentence of the appellant was rightly recorded  by  the
      courts below, which warranted no interdicting by this court.


      24.   From the arguments noted above,  it  would  be  clear  that  the
      appellant has challenged the conviction  primarily  on  the  following
      grounds:-


           (i)    The  conviction  is  based  solely   on   the   purported
           confessional statement recorded under Section 67 of the NDPS Act
           which has no evidentiary value in as much as:






                 (a)   The statement was given to and recorded by an officer
                 who is to be treated as “Police Officer” and is  thus,  hit
                 by Section 25 of the Indian Evidence Act.






                 (b)   No such  confessional  statement  could  be  recorded
                 under Section 67 of the NDPS Act. This  provision  empowers
                 to call for information and not to record such confessional
                 statements.  Thus,  the  statement  recorded   under   this
                 provision is akin to the statement under Section 161 Cr.PC.








                 (c)    In  any  case,  the  said  statement   having   been
                 retracted, it could not have been the basis  of  conviction
                 and could be used only to corroborate other evidence.






           (ii)  There was absence of fair investigation and non-compliance
           of the provisions  of  Section  52(3)  of  the  NDPS  Act.  This
           submission is primarily based on the argument that  same  person
           cannot be an officer under Section 42 of the NDPS Act as well as
           investigating officer under Section 52 of the said Act.






           (iii) Non-compliance of Section 57  of  the  NDPS  Act  is  also
           alleged because of the reason that P.W.7 who was the senior most
           officer among the raiding team has submitted  the  report  under
           Section 57 of  the  NDPS  Act  with  regard  to  arrest  of  the
           appellant to P.W.6j. Instead P.W.6  should  have  submitted  the
           report of such arrest to P.W.7.






      25.   We shall take up these arguments in seriatim for our discussion:


                 Evidentiary value of statement u/s 67 of the NDPS Act.


                  Before examining this  contention  of  the  appellant,  it
      would be apposite to take note of the provisions of  Sections  42,  53
      and 67 of the NDPS Act.
These provisions read as under:-


           42.   Power of entry, search, seizure and arrest without warrant
                 or authorization.


                 (1)   Any such officer (being an officer superior  in  rank
                 to a peon,  sepoy  or  constable)  of  the  departments  of
                 central excise, narcotics, customs, revenue intelligence or
                 any other department of the  Central  Government  including
                 para-military forces or armed forces  as  is  empowered  in
                 this behalf by general or  special  order  by  the  Central
                 Government, or any such officer (being an officer  superior
                 in rank to a peon, sepoy  or  constable)  of  the  revenue,
                 drugs, control, excise, police or any other department of a
                 State Government as is empowered in this behalf by  general
                 or special order of the State Government, if he has  reason
                 to believe from persons knowledge or information  given  by
                 any person and taken down  in  writing  that  any  narcotic
                 drug, or psychotropic substance, or controlled substance in
                 respect of which an offence punishable under this  Act  has
                 been committed or any document or other article  which  may
                 furnish evidence fo the commission of such offence  or  any
                 illegally  acquired  property  or  any  document  or  other
                 article which may furnish evidence of holding any illegally
                 acquired property which is liable for seizure  or  freezing
                 or forfeiture under Chapter VA  of  this  Act  is  kept  or
                 concealed in any building , conveyance or  enclosed  place,
                 may between sunrise and sunset-


                       (a)    enter  into  and  search  any  such  building,
                            conveyance or place;


                       (b)   in case of resistance, break open any door  and
                            remove any obstacle to such entry;


                       (c)   seize such drug or substance and all  materials
                            used in the manufacture thereof and  any  other
                            article and any animal or conveyance  which  he
                            reason to believe to be liable to  confiscation
                            under  this  Act  and  any  document  or  other
                            article which he  has  reason  to  believe  may
                            furnish  evidence  of  the  commission  of  any
                            offence punishable under this  Act  or  furnish
                            evidence  of  holding  any  illegally  acquired
                            property  which  is  liable  for   seizure   or
                            freezing or forfeiture under Chapter VA of this
                            Act; and


                       (d)   detain and search, and, if  he  thinks  proper,
                            arrest any person whom he has reason to believe
                            to have committed any offence punishable  under
                            this Act.






           Provided that if such officer  has  reason  to  believe  that  a
           search warrant  or  authorization  cannot  be  obtained  without
           affording  opportunity  for  the  concealment  of  evidence   or
           facility for the escape of an offender, he may enter and  search
           such building, conveyance or enclosed place at any time  between
           sunset and sunrise after recording the grounds of his belief.






                 (2)   Where  an  officer  takes  down  any  information  in
                 writing under sub-section (1) or records  grounds  for  his
                 belief under the proviso thereto, he shall within  seventy-
                 two hours send a copy thereof  to  his  immediate  official
                 superior.






           “53.  Power to  invest  officers  of  certain  departments  with
                 powers of an officer-in-charge of a police station:-






                 (1)   The Central Government, after consultation  with  the
                       State Government, may, by notification  published  in
                       the Official  Gazette,  invest  any  officer  of  the
                       Department of  Central  Excise,  narcotics,  Customs,
                       Revenue Intelligence or the Border Security Force  or
                       any class of such officers  with  the  powers  of  an
                       officer-in-charge   of   Police   Station   for   the
                       investigation of the offences under this Act.


                 (2)   The State Government may, by  notification  published
                       in the official gazette, invest any  officer  of  the
                       Department of Drugs Control, Revenue or Excise or any
                       class of such officers with the powers of an officer-
                       in-charge of a police station for  the  investigation
                       of offences under this Act.”






           “67.  Power to call for information etc.


                 Any officer referred to in Section 42 who is authorized in
                 this behalf by the Central Government or a State Government
                 may, during the course of any enquiry  in  connection  with
                 the contravention of any provision of this Act:-






                 (a)   Call for information from any person for the  purpose
                       of satisfying himself  whether  there  has  been  any
                       contravention of the provision of  this  Act  or  any
                       rule or order made thereunder:


                 (b)   Require any person to produce or deliver any document
                       or thing useful or relevant to the enquiry


                 (c)   Examine any person  acquainted  with  the  facts  and
                       circumstances of the case.”






      26.   We have already taken note of the contentions of Counsel for the
      parties  on  the  interpretation  of  the  aforesaid  provisions.   
To
      recapitulate in brief, the submission of Mr. Jain is that there is  no
      power in the Section67   of the NDPS Act to either record  confessions
      or substantive evidence which can form basis  for  conviction  of  the
      accused. 
It is also argued that, in any case, such a statement is  not
      admissible in evidence as the excise official recording the  statement
      is to be treated as “police officer” and thus, the evidential value of
      the statement recorded before him is hit by the provisions of  Section
      25 of the Indian Evidence Act.


      27.   The learned Counsel for the respondent had pointed out  that  in
      the case of Kanhaiyalal vs. Union of India; 2008(4) SCC  668,  it  has
      been categorically held that the officer under Section  63  is  not  a
      police officer. In arriving at that conclusion  the  two  judge  Bench
      judgment had followed earlier judgment in the case of Raj Kumar Karwal
      Vs. Union of India; 1990(2) SCC 409.


      28.   Had the matter rested at that, the aforesaid dicta laid down  by
      two judge Bench would have  been  followed  by  us.
However,  on  the
      reading of the aforesaid judgment, we find that  the  only  reason  to
      conclude that an officer under Section 53 of the NDPS Act  was  not  a
      police officer was based on the following observations:


                 These provisions found in Chapter V of the Act  show  that
           there is nothing in the Act to  indicate  that  all  the  powers
           under Chapter XII of the Code, including the  power  to  file  a
           report under  Section  173  of  the  Code  have  been  expressly
           conferred on officers who are invested with  the  powers  of  an
           officer-in-charge of a police station under Section 53, for  the
           purpose of investigation of offences under the Act.






      29.   We find, prima facie,  in  the  arguments  of  Mr.  Jain  to  be
      meritorious when he points out that  the  aforesaid  observations  are
      without  any  detailed  discussion  or  the  reasons  to  support  the
      conclusion arrived at. Mr. Jain’s fervent plea to depart from the view
      taken in the said judgment  deserved  consideration  as  there  is  no
      provision under the NDPS Act which takes away the power  of  filing  a
      report under Section 173 of  the  Code  which  is  available  with  an
      officer-in-charge of a police station.
He  further  argued  that  the
      provision of Section 173 are contained in Chapter XII of the Code  and
      since all powers of an officer in-charge of a police station has  been
      conferred, there is no legal basis to suggest that the said  power  is
      not available with the officer under Section 53 of the Act. 
Above all,
      we find that the judgment in Raj Kumar Karwal (supra)  was  considered
      by this court in few cases but without giving imprimatur,  as  can  be
      seen below:


      30.   Abdul Rashid v. State of Bihar; (2001) 9  SCC  578,  this  Court
      after noticing the judgment in Raj  Kumar  Karwal  (supra),  chose  to
      apply the Constitution Bench judgment in the case of Raja Ram  Jaiswal
      reported as (1964) 2 SCR 752 and observed thus:-


           “     Mr. B.B. Singh also brought to our notice  a  judgment  of
           this Court in the case of Raj Kumar Karwal v. Union of India  in
           support of the contention that even a superintendent  of  excise
           under the Bihar and Orissa Excise Act is not  a  police  officer
           and as such a  confessional  statement  made  to  him  would  be
           admissible in evidence. In the aforesaid case, the question  for
           consideration is whether  the  officers  of  the  Department  of
           Revenue Intelligence (DRI) invested with powers of  officer  in-
           charge of a police station under Section 53 are police  officers
           or not within the meaning of Section 25, and this Court answered
           that those officers are not police officers. This decision is in
           pari material with the Constitution Bench decision in  1966  and
           does not in any way detract from the conclusion of this Court in
           Raja Ram which we have already noticed. 
In Pon  Adithan  v.  Dy.
           Director,  Narcotics  Control  Bureau  this  question  had   not
           directly been in issue and the only question that was raised  is
           whether the statement made was under threat and pressure. 
It  is
           obvious that a statement of confession  made  under  threat  and
           pressure would come within  the  ambit  of  Section  24  of  the
           Evidence Act.  
This  decision  therefore  would  not  be  direct
           authority on the point in issue. 
In the aforesaid premises,  the
           decision of Raja Ram would apply  to  the  alleged  confessional
           statement made by the appellant to the superintendent of  excise
           and therefore would be inadmissible in evidence.”






      31.   Both the said judgments i.e. Raj Kumar Karwal (supra) as well as
      Kanhiyalal (supra) were thereafter considered by this  court  in  Noor
      Aga vs. State of Punjab (2008) 9 SCALE 681
where the court, has  after
      considering the entire scheme of the Customs Act, has  held  that  the
      officer under Section 53 of the customs Act is a  police  officer  and
      would, therefore, attract the provisions of Section 25 of the Evidence
      Act. It observed:


           “104. Section 53 of the Act, empowers the Customs  Officer  with
           the powers of the Station House Officers.  An  officer  invested
           with the power of a police officer by reason of a special status
           in terms of sub-section (2) of section 53 would, thus, be deemed
           to be police officers and for the said purposes of Section 25 of
           the Act shall be applicable.”






      32.   No doubt, Abdul Rashid & Noor  Aga  were  the  cases  under  the
      Customs Act.
But the reasons for  holding  custom  officer  as  police
      officer would have significant bearing even when we consider the issue
      in the context of NDPS Act as well.
 It  would  be  more  so  when  the
      schemes & purport of the two enactments are kept in mind.
NDPS Act  is
      purely penal in nature. 
In contradistinction, as far  as  the  Customs
      Act and the Central Excise Act are concerned, their dominant object is
      to protect revenue of the State and penal  provisions  to  punish  the
      person found offending those laws are secondary in nature.


      33.   Further, the NDPS Act is a complete code  relating  to  Narcotic
      Substances, and dealing with the offences  and  the  procedure  to  be
      followed for the  detection  of  the  offences  as  well  as  for  the
      prosecution and the punishment of  the  accused.  
The  provisions  are
      penal provisions which can, in certain cases, deprive a person of  his
      liberty for a minimum period of  10  years  and  can  also  result  in
      sentences which can extend upto 20 years or even death sentence  under
      certain circumstances. 
The provisions therefore have  to  be  strictly
      construed and the safeguards provided therein have to be  scrupulously
      and honestly followed. [See Baldev Singh (1997) 1  SCC  416  Para  28;
      Union of India vs. Bal Mukund (2009) 12 SCC 161  Para  26,  27  &  28;
      Balbir Singh vs. State of Haryana (1987) 1 SCC 533].


      34.   We have also to keep in  mind  the  crucial  test  to  determine
      whether an officer is a police officer for the purpose of  Section  25 of the Evidence Act viz. the “influence or authority” that an  officer  is capable of exercising over a person  from  whom  a  confession   is  obtained.
The term “police officer” has not  been  defined  under  the
      Code or in the Evidence Act  and,  therefore,  the  meaning  ought  to
      assessed not by equating the  powers  of  the  officer  sought  to  be
      equated with a police officer but from the power he possesses from the
      perception of the common public to assess his capacity  to  influence,
      pressure  or  coercion  on  persons  who  are  searched,  detained  or
      arrested. 
The  influence  exercised  has  to  be,  assessed  from  the
      consequences that a  person  is  likely  to  suffer  in  view  of  the
      provisions of the Act under which he is being booked.  It,  therefore,
      follows that a police officer is one who:-


           (i)   is considered to be a police officer in “common  parlance”
                 keeping into focus the consequences provided under the Act.


           (ii)  is capable of exercising influence  or  authority  over  a
                 person from whom a confession is obtained.






      35.   We would also like to point out that Mr. Sushil Kumar  Jain  had
      referred to the provisions of the Police Act as well  to  support  his
      submission.
The preamble of the Police Act,  1861  (Act  5  of  1861),
      which is an Act for the regulation of a group  of  officers  who  come
      within the meaning of the word “police” provides”


           “Whereas  it is expedient to re-organize the police and to  make
           it a more efficient instrument for the prevention and  detection
           of crime, it is enacted as follows.”






                  He argued that from the above, it can  be  seen  that  the
      primary object of any police establishment is prevention and detection
      of crime which may be provided for under the Indian Penal Code or  any
      other specific law enacted for dealing with  particular  offences  and
      bring the guilty to justice. It was submitted by him that  if  special
      authorities are created under special enactments for the same  purpose
      i.e. prevention and detection of  crime,  such  authorities  would  be
      “Police and have to be understood in the said perspective. Sections 23
      and 25 of the said Act lay down the duties of the police officers  and
      Section 20 deals  with  the  authority  and  provides  that  they  can
      exercise such authority as provided under the Police Act and  any  Act
      for regulating  criminal  procedure.  Section  5(2)  of  the  Criminal
      Procedure Code provides that “all offences under any other  law  shall
      be  investigated,  inquired  into,  tried  and  otherwise  dealt  with
      according to the same provisions, but subject to any enactment for the
      time being in force regulating the manner or place  of  investigating,
      inquiring into, trying or otherwise dealing with such offences.


      36.   On the strength of these provisions, the argument of the learned
      Counsel for the petitioner was that  persons  categorized  as  “police
      officers” can do all the activities and the  statute  gives  them  the
      power to enable them to discharge their  duties  efficiently.  Of  the
      various duties mentioned in Section 23, the more important duties  are
      to prevent the commission of offences  and  public  nuisances  and  to
      detect and bring offenders to justice and  to  apprehend  all  persons
      whom the police officer is legally  authorized  to  apprehend.  It  is
      clear, therefore, in view of the nature of the duties imposed  on  the
      police officer, the nature of the authority  conferred  and  also  the
      purpose of the Police Act, that the powers which the  police  officers
      enjoy are powers for the effective prevention and detection  of  crime
      in order to maintain law and order. According to the learned  Counsel,
      a comparison to the powers of the officers under the provisions of the
      NDPS Act makes it clear that the duties and  responsibilities  of  the
      officers empowered under the Act are comparable to those of the police
      officers and, therefore, they ought to be construed  as  such.  It  is
      submitted that the primary objective of a NDPS Officer  is  to  detect
      and prevent  crime  defined  under  the  provisions  of  the  act  and
      thereafter the procedure has been prescribed to bring the offenders to
      justice. Thus, the officers under the Act are  “Police  Officers”  and
      statements made to such officers are inadmissible in evidence.


      37.    He  also  drew  our  attention  to  the   following   pertinent
      observation of this Court in the case of State  of  Punjab  v.  Barkat
      Ram; (1962) 3 SCR 338.


           “Section  5(2)  of  the  Code   of   Criminal   Procedure   also
           contemplates investigation of, or inquiry into,  offences  under
           other   enactments   regulating   the   manner   or   place   of
           investigation, that  is,  if  an  act  creates  an  offence  and
           regulates the manner and place of investigation  or  inquiry  in
           regard to the said offence, the procedure prescribed by the Code
           of Criminal Procedure will give place to that provided  in  that
           Act. If the said Act entrusts investigation to an officer  other
           than one designated as police officer, he will have to make  the
           investigation and not the police officer. In this situation, the
           mere use of the  words  "police  officer"  in  section 25of  the
           Evidence Act does  not  solve  the  problem,  having  regard  to
           permissible rules of interpretation of the term "police officer"
           in that section. It may mean any one of the following categories
           of officers : (i) a police officer who is a member of the police
           force constituted under the Police Act; (ii) though not a member
           of the police force constituted under the Police Act, an officer
           who by statutory fiction is deemed to be  a  police  officer  in
           charge of a police station under the Code of Criminal Procedure;
           and (iii) an officer  on  whom  a  statute  confers  powers  and
           imposes duties of a police officer under the  Code  of  Criminal
           Procedure,  without  describing  him  as  a  police  officer  or
           equating him by fiction to such an officer. Now,  which  meaning
           is  to  be  attributed  to  the  term  "police  officer"  in   a
           section 25 of the Evidence Act ? In the absence of a  definition
           in the Evidence Act it is permissible to travel beyond the  four
           corners of the statute to ascertain the  legislative  intention.
           What was the meaning which the legislature intended it  give  to
           the term "police officer" at  the  time  the  said  section  was
           enacted ?
That section was taken out of the  Criminal  Procedure
           Code, 1861 (Act 25 of 1861) and inserted in the Evidence Act  of
           1872 as section 25.
Stephen in his Introduction to the  Evidence
           Act states at p. 171 thus :

           "I may observe, upon  the  provisions  relating  to  them,  that
           sections 25, 26 and 27 were  transferred  to  the  Evidence  Act
           verbatim from the Code of Criminal Procedure, Act XXV  of  1861.
           They differ widely from the law of England, and were inserted in
           the Act of 1861 in order to prevent the practice of  torture  by
           the police  for  the  purpose  of  extracting  confessions  from
           persons in their custody. "


      So too, Mahmood, J., in Queen Empress v. Babulal I.L.R(1884) . 6  All.
      509), gave the following reasons for the  enactment  of  section 25 of
      the Evidence Act at p. 523.

           "........... the legislature had in  view  the  malpractices  of
           police officers in extorting confessions from accused persons in
           order to gain credit by securing  convictions,  and  that  those
           malpractices went to the length of positive torture;  nor  do  I
           doubt that the Legislature, in laying down such stringent rules,
           regarded the evidence of police officers as  untrustworthy,  and
           the object of the rules was to put a stop to  the  extortion  of
           confessions, by taking away from  the  police  officers  as  the
           advantage of proving such exported confessions during the  trial
           of accused persons. "


           It is, therefore, clear that section 25 of the Evidence Act  was
           enacted to subserve a high purpose and that his to  prevent  the
           police  from  obtaining  confessions  by   force,   torture   or
           inducement. The salutary principle underlying the section  would
           apply equally to other officers, by  whatever  designation  they
           may be known,  who  have  the  power  and  duty  to  detect  and
           investigate into crimes and is for that purpose in a position to
           extract confessions from the accused.


           “..Shortly stated,  the  main  duties  of  the  police  are  the
           prevention and detection of crimes. A police  officer  appointed
           under the Police Act of 1861 has such powers  and  duties  under
           the Code of Criminal Procedure, but they are not  confined  only
           to such  police  officers.  As  the  State's  power  and  duties
           increased manifold, acts which were at one time considered to be
           innocuous and even praiseworthy have become  offences,  and  the
           police  power  of  the  State  gradually  began  to  operate  on
           different subjects.
Various Acts dealing with  Customs,  Excise,
           Prohibition, Forest, Taxes etc., came  to  be  passed,  and  the
           prevention, detection and investigation of offences  created  by
           those Acts came to be entrusted to officers  with  nomenclatures
           appropriate  to  the  subject  with  reference  to  which   they
           functioned.
It is not the garb under which  they  function  that
           matters, but the nature  of  the  power  they  exercise  or  the
           character  of  the  function  they  perform  is  decisive.  
The
           question, therefore, in each case is, does the officer  under  a
           particular Act exercise the powers and discharge the  duties  of
           prevention and detection of crime? If he  does,  he  will  be  a
           police officer.”






      38.   In our view the aforesaid  discussion  necessitates  a  re-look
      into the ratio of Kanhiyalal Case. It is more so when this Court  has
      already doubted the dicta in  Kanhaiyalal  (supra)  in  the  case  of
      Nirmal Singh Pehalwan (2011) 12 SCC 298 wherein after  noticing  both
      Kanhiyalal as well as Noor Aga, this Court observed thus:


           “15.  We also see that the Division Bench  in Kanhaiyalal  case;
           2008 (4) SCC 668; (2008) 2 SCC (Crl.) 474, had not examined  the
           principles  and  the  concepts  underlying   Section 25 of   the
           Evidence Act vis.-a-vis.  Section 108 of  the  Customs  Act  the
           powers of Custom Officer who could  investigate  and  bring  for
           trial an accused in a narcotic  matter.  The  said  case  relied
           exclusively on the judgment  in Raj  Kumar's  case (Supra).  
The
           latest judgment in point of time is Noor  Aga's  case which  has
           dealt very elaborately with this matter. 
We thus feel  it  would
           be proper for us to follow the ratio of  the  judgment  in  Noor
           Aga's case particularly as the provisions of  Section 50 of  the
           Act which are mandatory have also not been complied with.”






      39.   For the aforesaid reasons, we are of the view that  the  matter
      needs to be referred to a larger Bench for  re-consideration  of  the
      issue as to whether the officer investigating the matter  under  NDPS
      Act    would    qualify     as     police     officer     or     not.




      40.   In this context, the  other  related  issue  viz.  whether  the
      statement recorded by the investigating officer under Section  67  of
      the Act can be treated as confessional statement or not, even if  the
      officer is not treated as police officer also needs to be referred to
      the larger Bench, inasmuch as it is intermixed with a  facet  of  the
      1st issue as to  whether  such  a  statement  is  to  be  treated  as
      statement under Section 161 of the Code or it partakes the  character
      of statement under Section 164 of the Code.


      41.   As far as this second related issue is concerned we would  also
      like to point out that Mr. Jain argued that provisions of Section  67
      of the  Act  cannot  be  interpreted  in  the  manner  in  which  the
      provisions of Section 108 of the Customs Act  or Section  14  of  the
      Excise Act had been interpreted by number of judgments and there is a
      qualitative difference between the two sets of provisions.
In so  far
      as Section 108 of the Customs Act is concerned, it gives power to the
      custom officer to summon  persons  “to  give  evidence”  and  produce
      documents. 
Identical power  is  conferred  upon  the  Central  Excise
      Officer under Section 14 of the Act.
 However, the wording to  Section
      67 of the NDPS Act is altogether different. 
This difference has  been
      pointed out by Andhra Pradesh High Court in the Case of  Shahid  Khan
      vs. Director of Revenue Intelligence;  2001  (Criminal  Law  Journal)
      3183.


      42.   The Registry is accordingly directed to place the matter before Hon’ble the Chief Justice for the decision of this appeal by a larger  Bench after considering the issues specifically referred as above.


      43.   We find from the record that as  against  the  sentence  of  10
      years awarded to the appellant he has already undergone more  than  9
      years of sentence.
 In these circumstances, we deem it a fit  case  to
      suspend further sentence till the disposal  of  this  appeal  by  the
      larger Bench. 
The appellant shall be released on bail  on  furnishing
      security in the sum of Rs.50,000/-  (Rupees Fifty Thousand) with  two
      sureties of the same amount, to the satisfaction of the trial court.






                                                              …………………………….J.


                                                              [A.K. PATNAIK]














                                                              …………………………….J.


                                                                [A.K. SIKRI]


      New Delhi,


      October 8, 2013

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