In the case of Betty Rame v. Narcotics Control Bureau For the offence covered by Sections 22(c) and 23(c) of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 a petition was filed asking for the regular suspension of the 10-year prison term with a fine of Rs. 1 lakh
Analysis of Court order
Justice Anish Dayal of the Delhi High Court’s Single Judge Bench noted that there had allegedly been “non-compliance” with the Narcotics Control Bureau’s Standing Orders regarding the “manner of sampling narcotics” and, as a result, suspended the 10-year sentence of a Zimbabwean woman who had already spent about five years in custody.
The Court stated that as it appeared initially from the record that the findings of two samples obtained were not entirely placed on record, the question of improper sampling would need to be carefully reviewed when the appeal was decided. Even while there was a combination of the two packets that were confiscated, the Court observed that a separate sample as required by the Standing Order was not done.
The Court noted that the Supreme Court had frequently emphasised the strictness of the NDPS Act’s provisions and that Section 37 of the Act set two requirements for granting bail: first, the investigating agencies’ compliance must be necessary and precise, not ad hoc, half-hearted, or truncated in nature. The Court held that a “doubt” element, and even a “reasonable doubt,” was inextricably incorporated by the failure to comply with these rules.
The Court noted that in addition to having a case to argue regarding the issue of flawed sampling at the time of seizure, the appellant had also served a significant amount of time in prison (4 years, 11 months, and 18 days), and the appeal would likely take some time to be heard. As a result, this Court decided that the appellant’s sentence should be suspended. The appellant’s sentence was ordered to be suspended while the appeal was being heard by the court.