Persons who are dealing in narcotic drugs are instruments in causing death or in inflicting death blow to number of innocent young victims who are vulnerable, cause deleterious effects and deadly impact on the society. This honorable judgement was passed by Supreme Court of India in the case of Gurdev Singh vs. State of Punjab [CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 375 OF 2021] by The Hon’ble Dr justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Hon’ble justice Mr. Shah.
The appeal was filed by appellant feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh by which the High Court had dismissed the said appeal, original accused and had confirmed the judgment and order of conviction and sentence passed by the Learned Special Court. Learned Counsel appeared on behalf of the appellant had vehemently submitted that the minimum punishment/sentence which was provided in Section 21 of the Act is 10 years. It was submitted that therefore, by imposing the punishment higher than the minimum term of imprisonment, the Court had taken into consideration the factors mentioned in Section 32B of the Act and had assigned the reasons while imposing the punishment higher than the minimum term of imprisonment. It was submitted that the appellant was the first-time convict and was a poor person and was only a carrier. The main supplier of the narcotic substance had not been apprehended/arrested and the appellant-accused being a carrier, sentence higher than the minimum provided under the Act was not warranted. It was submitted that factors contained in clauses (a) to (f) of Section 32B had not been considered by the Learned Special Court while imposing a sentence higher than the minimum sentence.
The learned council referred the case of Rafiq Qureshi vs. Narcotic Control Bureau, Eastern Zonal Unit, (2019) 6 SCC 492, Soman vs. State of Kerala, (2013) 11 SCC 382 and State of Haryana vs. Asha Devi, (2015) 8 SCC 39.
The court opinioned that, “it should be borne in mind that in a murder case, the accused commits murder of one or two persons, while those persons who are dealing in narcotic drugs are instruments in causing death or in inflicting death blow to number of innocent young victims who are vulnerable; it cause deleterious effects and deadly impact on the society; they are hazard to the society. The clandestine smuggling of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances into this country and illegal trafficking in such drugs and substances shall lay to drug addiction among a sizeable section of the public, particularly the adolescents and students of both sexes and the menace has assumed serious and alarming proportions in the recent years.”
The court dismissed the appeal stating that, “while awarding the sentence/punishment in case of NDPS Act, the interest of the society as a whole is also required to be taken in consideration. Therefore, while striking balance between the mitigating and aggravating circumstances, public interest, impact on the society as a whole will always be tilt in favour of the suitable higher punishment.”