The apex court held that officers probing cases under the NDPS Act are ‘police officers’ too and so statements recorded before them are not admissible.

A stylised image of the Supreme Court of India
news Law Thursday, October 29, 2020 - 19:17

In a major judgment, the Supreme Court with a 2:1 majority on Thursday said that officers probing cases under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act,1985 are ‘police officers’ and the statements of accused made before them will not be admissible in court. 

The Supreme Court bench comprising Justices RF Nariman, Indira Banerjee and Navin Sinha was hearing two questions posed by a two-judge bench in 2013 — whether the officer investigating the matter under the NDPS Act would qualify as a police officer or not; and secondly whether the statement recorded by the investigating officer can be treated as a confessional statement or not. While Justice Nariman and Navin Sinha wrote the majority judgment, Justice Indira Banerjee wrote a separate dissenting judgment.

The Supreme Court, with a 2:1 majority, has held, “the officers who are invested with powers under section 53 of the NDPS Act are “police officers” within the meaning of section 25 of the Evidence Act, as a result of which any confessional statement made to them would be barred under the provisions of section 25 of the Evidence Act, and cannot be taken into account in order to convict an accused under the NDPS Act.”

Section 25 of the Evidence Act says, “Confession to police officer not to be proved. No confession made to a police officer, shall be proved as against a person accused of any offence.”

The court added, “A statement recorded under section 67 of the NDPS Act cannot be used as a confessional statement in the trial of an offence under the NDPS Act.”

Section 67 of the NDPS Act empowers officers appointed by the Centre or state governments to call for information from any person, to produce any document or item required in the investigation and to examine any person who may be connected to the case.

This judgment would mean that statements before the officers probing the case under NDPS Act will not be enough to implicate the accused in the case. The prosecution would have to prove the statement before a court of law as well, if the case goes to trial. 

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