DRUGS AND COSMETICS ACT, 1940
STORAGE OF SEIZED NARCOTICS
Union of India v. Mohan/al and Others
(2016) 3 sec 379: 2016 (1) SCALE 646: 2016 (159) AIC 87: JT 2016 (1) SC 596
Criminal Appeal No. 652 of 2012
Dated: January 28, 2016
BENCH: Justices T.S. Thakur and Kurian Joseph.
Guidelines were issued on the disposal of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic and controlled Substances and Conveyance.
Disposal of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic and controlled Substances and Conveyances shall be carried out in the following manner till such time the Government prescribes a different procedure for the same:
Cases where the trial is concluded and proceedings in appeal/revision have all concluded finally: In cases that stood finally concluded at the trial, appeal, revision and further appeals, if any, before 29th May, 1989 the continued storage of drugs and Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic and controlled Substances and Conveyances is of no consequence not only because of the considerable lapse of time since the conclusion of the proceedings but also because the process of certification and disposal after verification and testing may be an idle formality. We say so because even if upon verification and further testing of the seized contraband in such already concluded cases it is found that the same is either replaced, stolen or pilferaged, it will be difficult if not impossible to fix the responsibility for such theft, replacement or pilferage at this distant point in time. That apart, the storage facility available with the States, in whatever satisfactory or unsatisfactory conditions the same exist, are reported to be over-flowing with seized contraband goods. It would, therefore, be just and proper to direct that the Drugs Disposal Committees of the States and the Central agencies shall take stock of all such seized contrabands and take steps for their disposal without any further verification, testing or sampling whatsoever. The concerned heads of the Department shall personally supervise the process of destruction of drugs so identified for disposal. To the extent the seized Drugs and Narcotic Substances continue to choke the storage facilities and tempt the unscrupulous to indulge in pilferage and theft for sale or circulation in the market, the disposal of the stocks will reduce the hazards that go with their continued storage and availability in the market.
Drugs that are seized after May, 1989 and where the trial and appeal and revision have also been finally disposed of: In this category of cases while the seizure may have taken place after the introduction of Section 52A in the Statute book the non-disposal of the drugs over a long period of time would also make it difficult to identify individuals who are responsible for pilferage, theft, replacement or such other mischief in connection with such seized contraband. The requirement of para 5.5 of standing order No. 1/89 for such drugs to be disposed of after getting the same tested will also be an exercise in futility and impractical at this distant point in time. Since the trials stand concluded and so also the proceedings in appeal, Revision etc. insistence upon sending the sample from such drugs for testing before the same are disposed of will be a fruitless exercise which can be dispensed with having regard to the totality of the circumstances and the conditions prevalent in the maalkhanas and the so called godowns and storage facilities. The DDCs shall accordingly take stock of all such Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic and controlled Substances and Conveyances in relation to which the trial of the accused persons has finally concluded and the proceedings have attained finality at all levels in the judicial hierarchy. The DDCs shall then take steps to have such stock also destroyed under the direct supervision of the head of the Department concerned.
Cases in which the proceedings are still pending before the Courts at the level of trial court, appellate court or before the Supreme Court: In such cases the heads of the Department concerned shall ensure that appropriate applications are moved by the officers competent to do so under Notification dated 16thJanuary, 2015 before the Drugs Disposal Committees concerned and steps for disposal of such Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic and controlled Substances and Conveyances taken without any further loss of time.
Guidelines regarding seizure and storage of Seized drugs:
- No sooner the seizure of any Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic and Controlled Substances and Conveyances is effected, the same shall be forwarded to the officer in-charge of the nearest police station or to the officer empowered under Section 53 of the Act. The officer concerned shall then approach the Magistrate with an application under Section 52A(ii) of the Act, which shall be allowed by the Magistrate as soon as may be required under sub-section 3 of Section 52A, as discussed by us in the body of this judgment under the heading ‘seizure and sampling’. The sampling shall be done under the supervision of the magistrate as discussed in paras 13 and 14 of this order.
- The Central Government and its agencies and so also the State Governments shall within six months from today take appropriate steps to set up storage facilities for the exclusive storage of seized Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic and controlled Substances and Conveyances duly equipped with vaults and double locking system to prevent theft, pilferage or replacement of the seized drugs. The Central Government and the State Governments shall also designate an officer each for their respective storage facility and provide for other steps, measures as stipulated in Standing Order No. 1/89 to ensure proper security against theft, pilferage or replacement of the seized drugs.
- The Central Government and the State Governments shall be free to set up a storage facility for each district in the States and depending upon the extent of seizure and store required, one storage facility for more than one districts.
- Disposal of the seized drugs currently lying in the police maalkhans and other places used for storage shall be carried out by the DDCs concerned in terms of the directions issued by us in the body of this judgment under the heading ‘disposal of drugs’.