In a recent case, the Apex Court observed that private vehicles would not come under the meaning of public place as mentioned in Section 43 of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.
A bench comprising Hon’ble Justice UU Lalit and Hon’ble Justice KM Joseph observed that non-compliance of Section 42 was impermissible though its rigour might lessen in some instances.
In the instant case, narcotics were recovered from the accused when they were sitting in a jeep that was parked in a public place.
The High Court upheld the conviction and stated that the accused’s case would be covered u/s 43 of NDPS Act and not u/s 42. Section 43 deals with the power of seizure and arrest in a public place, while Section 42 deals with the power to arrest, seize, and search without authorisation or warrant.
Contentions raised before the Supreme Court:
The accused argued that since the vehicle was a private one, even though it was parked on a public road, it would not be governed by Section 43. Still, Section 42 would be applicable in the case, and since rigours of Section 42 were not complied with, they should be acquitted. To drive home the point, the accused relied on Karnail Singh vs State of Haryana and Rajasthan vs Jagraj Singh.
The decision of the Court:
The Court opined that the evidence clearly shows that the vehicle in question was not public, but it belonged to the accused (Gurdeep Singh). The Court also took note of the Registration Certificate of the vehicle, which was placed on record, which also indicated that the vehicle was not a Public Transport Vehicle.
As per the Bench, Section 43 states that private vehicles will not be covered under the expression ‘public place’ as mentioned in Section 43 of the NDPS Act. the Bench ruled that Section 42 will be applicable in the case.