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Quantity of narcotic substance a relevant factor while determining the quantum of punishment- SC

The Apex Court, in the case of Gurdev Singh v State of Punjab, made an observation that the quantity of narcotic substance recovered from the accused plays a major role while imposing a punishment which is higher than the one mentioned under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.

The bench also stated that court has a discretionary power while imposing the sentence/imprisonment ranging between 10-20 years and in addition to this, it can consider other factors as well, apart from the ones which are provided under Section 32B (a) to (f) of the NDPS Act.

In the instant case, the accused had been found in possession of 1kg heroin, which is four times more than the minimum commercial quantity. The Special Court held the accused guilty and imposed punishment for committing an offence under Section 21 of the Act.

The court sentenced him to undergo 15 years of rigorous imprisonment and also a fine of Rs. 2 lakh. The accused filed for an appeal before High Court but the same was dismissed. So the accused approached the doors of apex court.

The accused plea was that while imposing a rigorous imprisonment of 15 years, neither the Special Court nor the High Court mentioned any reasons, taking into account the various factors which have been enumerated under Section 32B of the Act.

The apex court answered the contention raised by accused and stated that Section 32B empowers the court to take into account any other factor which it deems fit to impose a punishment which is higher than the minimum one.

In support of this, the bench relied upon the case of Rafiq Qureshi v Narcotic Control Bureau, wherein it was held that a plain reading of Section 32B clarifies that the court is not supposed to restrict itself to the factors mentioned therein and can consider others as well.

The apex court thus dismissed the appeal filed by the accused.

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