The Supreme Court has given an important verdict in a case related to drugs. The court said that under the NDPS Act, the statement of an accused in front of a police officer cannot be considered evidence. It cannot be made the basis for convicting the accused.
A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court gave this opinion in its decision by majority vote. Justice Rohinton Nariman and Justice Naveen Sinha said in their judgment that such a statement is contrary to Section-25 of the Evidence Act and the statement made before a police officer cannot be used as valid evidence whereas Justice Indira Banerjee in the minority Opinions expressed against them.
The bench said that the confessional statement was given to a police officer under Section 53 of the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS Act) would not be considered as an acceptable statement.
Under this law, the conviction of an accused of a crime cannot be taken into consideration. The decision comes at a time when the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has been tightening its grip on drug peddlers in Mumbai, Bangalore, and other cities over drug abuse and trafficking.
Earlier decisions of the Supreme Court were different from this. In 2013, a two-judge bench referred to the case. At that time the question was sent as to whether the officers under the NDPS Act would be considered as police officers. And the second question was whether the statement taken under section 67 of NDPS should be considered as a confessional statement or not.
The Supreme Court had earlier stated in the case of Kanhaiya Lal vs Union of India that officers under NDPS are not police officers and the Evidence Act does not apply. The question was raised whether the officers under the NDPS Act who investigate and record the statement of the accused should be considered as police officers or not.
A bench headed by Justice Nariman said the confessional statement is made in front of the authorized officer under NDPS. On this basis, the accused are convicted under the NDPS. In this case, there is no safeguard other than Section 25 of the Evidence Act.
This is directly a violation of Article-14 (Right to Equality) Article-20 (3) i.e. the right not to be compelled to testify against oneself i.e. the right to remain silent and Article-21 (right to life).