223 Kilograms of Poppy Straw

Sahi Ram was driving a Tavera, RJ27-TC-0323. The vehicle was searched, during which 7 bags of poppy straw, the gross weight being 223 kilograms, were found behind the driver’s seat.

Sahi Ram was convicted for offence punishable under Section 8 r/w Section 15 of The NDPS Act; sentenced to suffer rigorous imprisonment for 15 years and to pay fine of Rs. 1,50,000/-, in default whereof he was directed to suffer further rigorous imprisonment for 1 year. 

High Court acquitted Sahi Ram. It was accepted, only two packets of sample and one bag of poppy straw, weighing 2.5 kilograms, was exhibited while the entire contraband material was not. It was observed, failure to exhibit was fatal.

Interestingly, just the reason of non-production of the contraband material has never been been found to be sufficient to grant the benefit of acquittal.

At no stage even a suggestion was put to the witness that either the signatures of the accused were taken by fraud, coercion or mis-representation or that the signatures were not of the accused or that they did not understand the purport of the seizure memo. It would therefore be difficult to even suggest, the seizure of contraband weighing 223 kilograms was not proved. In our view this fact stood conclusively proven. If the seizure of the material is otherwise proved on record and is not even doubted or disputed, the entire contraband material need not be placed before Court. If the seizure is otherwise not in doubt, there is no requirement that the entire material ought to be produced before Court. At times the material could be so bulky, for instance as in the present material when those 7 bags weighed 223 kilograms, it may not be possible and feasible to produce the entire bulk before Court. If the seizure is otherwise proved, what is required to be proved is the fact that the samples taken from and out of the contraband material were kept intact, that when the samples were submitted for forensic examination the seals were intact, that the report of the forensic experts shows the potency, nature and quality of the contraband material and that based on such material, the essential ingredients constituting an offence are made out. In the aforesaid premises, the conclusion drawn by High Court was completely unsustainable and High Court erred in extending the benefit of acquittal to Sahi Ram.

The minimum sentence of imprisonment for the offence punishable under Section 8 r/w Section 15 of The NDPS Act is 10 years. In our view the appropriate sentence would be rigorous imprisonment for 10 years. We keep the other parts of sentence, namely sentence of fine and sentence in default of payment of fine, intact and unchanged.”

Hon’ble Justice U.U. LalitState of Rajasthan v. Sahi Ram, [Criminal Appeal No. 1497 of 2019].