Emphasizing the requirement of compliance of Section 50 of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act in its true spirit, the Supreme Court of India reversed a conviction on the ground of trial and High Court courts holding out that Sections 42 & 50 were not attracted to the case.
Lamenting the that even High Court failed to independently examine the correctness of the findings recorded by th…e trial Court, the Court said “….the offer to the person to be searched in the presence of a Gazetted officer or a Magistrate, should really serve the purpose of ensuring that there was every bona fide effort taken by the prosecution to bring forth the grave offence of possession of narcotic substance and proceed against the person by way of prosecution and thereby establish the truth before the appropriate judicial forum. In the same breath such a course of compliance of Section 50 would also enable the person accused of such a grave offence to be convinced that the presence of such an independent Gazetted officer or a Magistrate would also enable the person proceeded against to demonstrate that there was no necessity for holding any search on him and thereby persuade the concerned Gazetted officer or Magistrate to protect his fundamental right of freedom, from being unlawfully proceeded against.”
“In other words, the purpose of Section 50 was to ensure that on the one hand, the holding of a search and seizure was not a farce of an exercise in order to falsely implicate a person by unscrupulous police authorities, while on the other hand to prevent an accused from committing an offence of a serious nature against the society, warranting appropriate criminal proceedings to be launched and in the event of establishing such offence, conviction and sentence to be imposed in accordance with law. Therefore, such a dual requirement of law prescribed under Section 50 cannot be dealt with lightly by the Courts dealing with the trial of such offences brought before it”, the Court added.
Section 50 requires that accused should be offered an opportunity to have the search conducted in the presence of a Gazetted officer or a Magistrate.