Rizwan Khan v. The State of Chhattisgarh
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 580 OF 2020 decided on September 10, 2020.
BENCH– Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy, M.R. Shah, JJ.
Accused was charged for the offence under Section 20(b)(ii)(B) of the NDPS Act, having in his possession 20 kg each prohibited Narcotic Substance – Ganja. A search was conducted by investigating officer and accused was asked to open the sack kept on his motor cycle and on opening the same, a bag of Ganja weighing 20kg was found. Panchnama was made regarding seizure. The samples were sealed and an entry was made in the seizure list on which sample seal was marked. The accused was arrested along with the other accused from whom also the contraband narcotic substance was found. All further investigation was carried out by another Police Inspector, who investigated the matter after registration of the FIR and recorded statement of witnesses.
The High Court has dismissed the said appeal preferred by the accused and has confirmed the Judgment and Order of Conviction and Sentence passed by the learned Special Court convicting the accused. Hence, this appeal in Supreme Court.
[See Section 20(b)(ii) in The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985
(b) produces, manufactures, possesses, sells, purchases, transports, imports inter-State, exports inter-State or uses cannabis, shall be punishable
(ii) where such contravention relates to sub-clause (b),
Whether the High Court was justified in convicting the accused and dismissing the appeal?
The Supreme Court dismissing the appeal and confirming the findings recorded by the learned Special Court and by the High Court held that:
Regarding Manner of Investigation
The main submission of accused was that the police officer who recorded the FIR was himself the investigating officer and therefore the trial is vitiated is concerned.
The Court said that the above submission was made relying upon the decision of this Court in the case of Mohan Lal v. State of Punjab reported in (2018) 17 SCC 627 but since in Mukesh Singh v. State (Narcotic Branch)(Click here to read the brief), it was held that Mohan Lal is not good law, therefore above submission is not sustainable. Apart from this, it is on record that the officer who recorded FIR and investigating officer was different. Therefore, the above-mentioned submission does not hold water.
Regarding Testimony of Witness
It was part of the record that the two independent witnesses who were panchnama witnesses had turned hostile.
Inspite of the fact that independent witnesses turned hostile, it was held by the Court that the testimony of the official witnesses[police officer] if trustworthy and reliable cannot be rejected on the ground of non-corroboration by independent witness. Furthermore, it was observed by the Court that in catena of decisions by this Court it has been held that examination of independent witnesses is not in indispensable requirement and such non-examination is not necessarily fatal to the prosecution case.