Certain areas of law continuously keep evolving. One of those areas remains the laws pertaining to pharmaceuticals and contraband substances. There have been enough instances to evidently show that certain people in a society tend to abuse these drugs manufactured for medical purposes for recreational purposes. Therefore, the need for an ever-evolving law is very necessary as different scientific breakthroughs keep bringing new classes of chemicals. In a case dealing with an issue regarding possession of substances in excess, an interesting matter has been highlighted by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana.
The High Court took action on a judge from a lower court on account of not being aware of recent progressions made in law against the possession of drugs and narcotics. In the case, the accused was apprehended in October 2019 for possession of 429 Lomotil and 420 Alprax tablets. According to the arguments presented by the prosecution, these numbers fall within the ambit of commercial quantity.
The case was heard in a special court where the judge noted after taking into account the forensic report that-
“420 Lomotil tablets contain 2646 of salt Diphneoxylate (above 50 grams commercial) and 420 tablets of Alprex contain 50,04 of salt Alprazolam (above 100 grams commercial) and the above-said quantity of the tablets, due to different salt, falls within the non-commercial range.”
However, when the case was presented in the High Court, it refuted the approach followed by the judge and pointed out the fallacy in his reasoning in the case. It went on to cite the Supreme Court Judgment of Hira Singh v Union of India.
The bench of Justice Mittal adjudicated the matter. It stated that the reasoning of the Supreme Court that while seizing contraband substances in the form of a mixture with neutral substances, the quantity of these neutral substances should also be taken into consideration. It was observed by the court that-
“The Special Judge either did not keep herself updated with the latest position in law or did not bother to examine the case in the light of the latest judgment of the Supreme Court Hira Singh and another vs. Union of India and another, 2020(2) RCR(Criminal) 523 wherein it has been held that in case of seizure and mixture of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances with one or more neutral substance(s), the quantity of neutral substance(s) is not excluded and to be taken into consideration along with actual content by weight of the offending drug while determining the small or commercial quantity of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances.”
Moreover, the court clarified that it lies upon the state to challenge that was granted to the co-accused. The main bail plea before the High Court was therefore dismissed as withdrawn. Instances like these show how important it is for the judiciary to be extremely cautious when it comes to dealing with matters for imparting justice.