Private vehicle would not come within the ambit of ‘public place’: Supreme Court
A SC Bench comprising of Justices U U Lalit and K M Joseph made the observation while deciding an appeal challenging an order under the NDPS Act
Supreme Court Bench comprising of Justices U U Lalit and K M Joseph passed the order
In a breakthrough decision by the Supreme Court while deciding on an appeal challenging an order passed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court affirming their conviction and sentence under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act has said “that a private vehicle does not come within the ambit of a ‘public place’.”
A Bench comprising of Justices U U Lalit and K M Joseph made the observation while deciding an appeal challenging an order under the NDPS Act.
Two bags of poppy straw were recovered from the accused while they were sitting in a jeep at a public place.
The trial court, after considering the evidence, acquitted accused Major Singh but convicted accused Boota Singh, Gurdeep Singh and Gurmohinder Singh, under the NDPS Act and sentenced them to 10 years rigorous imprisonment. The accused were also asked to pay a fine of ₹1 lakh, failing which they were directed to undergo a further 2 years rigorous imprisonment.
The accused argued before the bench that the vehicle in question was a private one and was not a public conveyance, though it was parked on a public road.
The Supreme Court said that the vehicle was not a public conveyance but a private one belonging to Gurdeep Singh, and acquitted the accused as they were charged under the wrong section.
“The Registration Certificate of the vehicle, which has been placed on record also does not indicate it to be a Public Transport Vehicle. The explanation to Section 43 shows that a private vehicle would not come within the expression 'public place' as explained in Section 43 of the NDPS Act,” the Court observed.
"On the strength of the decision of this court, the relevant provision would not be Section 43 of the NDPS Act but the case would come under Section 42 of the NDPS Act,” the bench said.
“Total non-compliance of Section 42 is impermissible... In the circumstances, the courts below fell in error in rejecting the submissions advanced on behalf of the appellants,” the Top Court said.
“We, therefore, allow this appeal, set aside the view taken by the High Court and acquit the appellants of the charge levelled against them. The appellants be released forthwith unless their custody is required in connection with any other offence,” the order said.