Supreme Court Guidelines

SEARCH AND SEIZURE UNDER NDPS ACT State of Punjab v. Balbir Singh, AIR 1994 SC 1872: (1994) 3 SCC 299

  1. If a police officer without any prior information as contemplated under the provisions of the NDPS Act, makes a search or arrests a person in the normal course of investigation into an offence or suspected offence as provided under the provisions of Cr. P.C. and when such search is completed at that stage section 50 of the NDPS Act would not be attracted and the question of complying with the requirements thereunder would not arise. If during such search or arrest there is a chance of recovery of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance then the police officer, who is not empowered, should inform the empowered officer who should thereafter proceed in accordance with the provisions of the NDPS Act.
  2. (A) Under section 41(1) only an empowered Magistrate can issue warrant for the arrest or for the search in respect of offences punishable under Chapter IV of the Act, etc. when he has reason to believe that such offences have been committed or such substances are kept or concealed in any building, conveyance or place.

(B) Under section 41(2) only the empowered officer can give the authorisation to his subordinate officer to carry out the arrest of a person or search as mentioned therein. If there is a contravention, that would affect the prosecution case and vitiate the conviction.

(C) Under section 42(1) the empowered officer if he has prior information given by any person, that should necessarily be taken down in writing.

To this extent these provisions are mandatory and contravention of the same would affect the prosecution case and vitiate the trial.

  1. Under section 42(2) such empowered officer who takes down any information in writing or records the grounds under proviso to section 42(1) should forthwith send a copy thereof to his immediate official superior.
  2. (A) If a police officer, even if he happens to be an “empowered” officer while effecting an arrest or search during normal investigation into offences purely under the provisions of Cr. P.C. fails to strictly comply with the provisions of sections 100 and 165, Cr. P.C. including the requirement to record reasons, such failure would only amount to an irregularity.

(B) If an empowered officer or an authorised officer under section 41(2) of the Act, carries out a search, he would be doing so under the provisions of Cr. P.C., namely, sections 100 and 165, Cr.  P.C. and if there is no strict compliance with the provisions of Cr. P.C. then such search would not per se be illegal and would not vitiate the trial.

  1. On prior information, the empowered officer or authorised officer while acting under section 41(2) or 42 should comply with the provisions of section 50 before the search of the person is made and such person should be informed that if he so requires, he shall be produced before a gazetted officer or a magistrate as provided thereunder. It is obligatory on the part of such officer to inform the person to be searched.
  2. The provisions of sections 52 and 57 which deal with the steps to be taken by the officers after making arrest or seizure under sections 41 to 44 are by themselves not mandatory. If there is non-compliance or if there are lapses like delay, etc. then the same has to be examined to see whether any prejudice has been caused to the accused and such failure will have a bearing on the appreciation of evidence regarding arrest or seizure as well as on merits of the case.

Source: M A Rashid, Supreme Court Guidelines and Precedents


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