Saturday, 6 December 2014

Narcotics Punishment is dependent on its quantity not the substance

2014 P Cr. L J 561
[Lahore]
Before Kh. Imtiaz Ahmad and M. Sohail Iqbal Bhatti, JJ
AZIZ ULLAH KHAN and others---Appellants
Versus
The STATE and others---Respondents
Criminal Jail Appeal No.103-J of 2010 and Criminal Jail Appeal No.10 of 2012, decided on 23rd January, 2014.
(a) Control of Narcotic Substances Act (XXV of 1997)---
----Ss.  5, 9, 11, 13, 16, 45 & 46--- Possessing and trafficking narcotics---Award of punishment---Jurisdiction of Special Court---Control of Narcotic Substances Act, 1997, which was a special law, had provided for stringent and long punishment---Sentences specified in the Act, would depend upon quantity of recovered narcotic substances, and not the narcotic content of the recovered substance---Special care to be taken in narcotic cases by putting the prosecution to the strict test to prove its case---No room for doubt as to the exact quantity of the substance recovered---Accused being on the receiving end of long and strictest punishments, safeguards from his point of view should not be allowed to be sacrificed at the altar of mere comfort and convenience of the prosecution.
(b) Control of Narcotic Substances Act (XXV of 1997)---
----Ss. 9(c), 14 & 15---Possessing and trafficking narcotics---Denial of accused of allegation levelled against him---Effect---If at the time of framing of charge, accused would deny the allegation levelled against him by the prosecution; that nothing had been recovered from his possession or custody; and that in his statement recorded under S.342, Cr.P.C. he had controverted the allegation regarding recovery of narcotics from his possession or custody, then mere failure to challenge during the trial that remaining untested recovered substance was not narcotic substance, could neither weaken the case of defence nor strengthen the case of the prosecution.
            Nadir Khan and another v. The State 1998 SCMR 1899; Ali Muhammad and another v. The State 2003 SCMR 54; Kashif Aamir v. The State PLD 2010 SC 1052; Muhammad Hashim v. The State PLD 2004 SC 856; Ameer Zaib v. The State PLD 2012 SC 380; The State v. Amjad  Ali  PLD  2007  SC  85  and  Muhammad  Aslam  (Amir Aslam) and  others  v.  District  Police  Officer  Rawalpindi  and  others  2009 SCMR 141 ref.
(c) Words and phrases---
----"Sample"---Meaning explained.
(d) Words and phrases---
----"Representative sample"---Meaning and connotation.
(e) Control of Narcotic Substances Act (XXV of 1997)---
----Ss. 9 & 32--- Possessing and trafficking narcotics--- Articles connected with narcotics---Taking of samples---Where wrappers, slabs, cakes, packets, boxes, containers, etc. were recovered, it was mandatory to take separate sample from every separate packet, wrapper, slab, box, container and cake to make it a 'Representative Sample' of narcotic substance recovered.
(f) Administration of justice---
----Speedy disposal of cases---Sacrifice of justice to obtain speedy disposal  of  cases,  could  hardly  be  termed  as  'justice'---Balance ought to be maintained between the two commonly known maxim; "justice delayed was justice denied", and 'justice rushed was justice crushed'---Speed and efficiency, should not be at the expense of justice.
(g) Control of Narcotic Substances Act (XXV of 1997)---
----S. 9(c)--- Possessing and trafficking narcotics--- Appreciation of evidence---Sentence, reduction in---Co-accused had already served out 16 years, 11 months and 22 days, including the remissions; and accused had served out of 17 years, 6 months and 14 days including the remissions---Both accused persons, in circumstances, had served out more sentence as provided in sentence policy, laid down in Ghulam Murtaza v. The State PLD 2009 Lahore 362---Conviction of accused persons under S.9(c) of Control of Narcotic Substances Act, 1997 was upheld, but their sentence was reduced to already undergone by them including the fine.
            Ghulam  Murtaza and another v. The State PLD 2009 Lah. 362  rel.
            Raja Shahzad Anwar and Raja Ghanem Aabir Khan for Appellants.
            Raja Tauqeer Ahmad Satti, Special Public Prosecutor, ANF for the State.
            Date of hearing: 17th December, 2013.
JUDGMENT
            M. SOHAIL IQBAL BHATTI, J.---Through this Judgment we are inclined to decide Criminal Jail Appeal No.10 of 2012 titled Baz Muhammad v. State and Criminal Jail Appeal No.103 of 2010 titled Aziz Ullah Khan v. State as the identical questions of law and facts are involved in both the appeals, which arise out of same case F.I.R. No.07/2005 dated 15-3-2005 under section 9(c) read with sections 14/15 Control of Narcotic Substances Act, 1997 registered at Police Station ANF, Attock.
2.         Initially, challan was submitted before Special Court (C.N.S.), Rawalpindi against both the appellants namely Aziz Ullah Khan and Baz Muhammad. However, during the trial Baz Muhammad was declared a juvenile and separate challan against him was submitted with learned Sessions Judge, Attock.

3.         According to the story narrated in the F.I.R., one Naseeb Haider Zaidi, Sub-Inspector, Police Station ANF, Attock was posted as Police Station ANF, Attock and on the same date, a secret information came to him that two persons had planned to smuggle huge quantity of Charas through Toyota Hiace No.C-1779/Sawat from Peshawar to Rawalpindi. Upon this information a raiding party was arranged and at about 2-30 p.m. the informed vehicle came from the side of Peshawar; the said vehicle was stopped, and thereafter on pointation of the informer two persons who were sitting on the rear seat were apprehended and during interrogation disclosed their names as Aziz Ullah Khan and Baz Muhammad. The backside of the vehicle was opened and it was disclosed by the appellants that Charas was lying underneath the last rear seat of the vehicle. Three Cartons lying under the seat were unloaded and the said cartons were opened. Two cartons contained light blue coloured tin boxes 19 in number. When these boxes were opened, Charas was found in the shape of Slabs, third carton when open contained tin boxes of the same colour which were seven in number. One box contained Charas in the shape of slab and the remaining six boxes contained Charas Garda. 19 slabs of Charas weighed 3 Kg each and one slab weighed 1.6 Kg; total weight of Charas slabs came to 58.6 Kg. Charas Garda in each box weighed 2.3 Kg and total weight came to 11.500 Kg.
4.         According to the prosecution, the alleged narcotics substance was taken into possession through recovery memo (Exh-PB). Out of the recovered slabs of Charas, a small quantity was taken from each slab, which was put in consolidated form in one packet weighing 30 grams. Similarly, out of the recovered Charas Garda, a small quantity was taken from  each  tin  box  which  was  consolidated  in  one  packet  weighing 10 grams. The 30 grams Charas taken as a sample was again bifurcated into 3 packets of 10 grams each, which were sent to the Chemical Examiner and according to the report of the Chemical Examiner (Exh.PF) three sealed packets contained Charas and one packet contained Charas Garda which can be used to cause intoxication.
5.         After the investigation, both the appellants were found guilty under section 9(c) read with sections 14/15 of C.N.S. Act, 1997, report under section 173, Cr.P.C. was submitted before Judge Special Court, C.N.S., Rawalpindi; however during the trial, appellant Baz Muhammad was declared juvenile and he was tried by Additional District Judge, Attock. After conclusion of trial, Aziz Ullah Khan through judgment dated 18-3-2010  was  convicted  under  section  9(c)  read   with  section 14/15 of C.N.S. Act, 1997 and was sentenced to imprisonment for life with fine of Rs.500,000. In default whereof, he was further directed to undergo simple imprisonment for one year. Accused Baz Muhammad was also convicted by Additional Sessions Judge/Juvenile Court  Attock  on  3-11-2011.  He  was  sentenced  to  imprisonment  for life  along  with fine  of  Rs. 200,000  and  in  case  of default of payment of the fine, he was sentenced to undergo six months' simple imprisonment.
6.         The only argument advanced before this Court by the learned counsel for the appellants was that the Charas allegedly recovered from the appellant's possession was contained in 20 boxes (19 containing Charas  Slabs  weighing  3  Kg  each and one containing Slab weighing 1.6 Kg) and Charas Garda was contained in 5 boxes (each box containing 2.3 Kg Charas Garda); but instead of taking separate samples from every box/slab, only a small and unspecified quantity had been taken as a sample from every slab and then all such small quantities were put together in one packet weighing 30 Grams. Similarly, Charas Garda was contained in five boxes weighing 2.3 Kg each; only a small and unspecified  quantity had been taken as a sample from every box and then all such small quantities were put together in one packet weighing 10 Grams. The 30 Gram packet of Charas was again bifurcated into three packets of 10 Gram each to be sent to the Chemical Examiner for analysis.
7.         It had been maintained by the learned counsel for the appellants that it was imperative to obtain a separate sample not only from every slab/box allegedly recovered from the appellants' possession (25 boxes) and then all such samples i.e. 25 in number were to be sent to the chemical examiner separately for analysis in order to confirm that every box/slab contained Charas but that was not done in present case as is evident from the F.I.R. (Exh.PA, the memorandum of recovery Exh.PB and report submitted by the Chemical Examiner Exh.PF). It has, thus been submitted by the learned counsel for the appellants that the sample prepared in respect of Charas which initially weighed 30 Grams could only be a representative of one slab of Charas weighing 3 Kg and the sample prepared in respect of Charas Garda could only be a representative sample of 2.3 Kg.
8.         As against that the learned Special Public Prosecutor Anti-Narcotics Force has maintained that it was not a legal requirement to take a separate sample from every box/slab of the Narcotics Substance and to send every such sample to the Chemical Examiner for analysis and that the appellants had never claimed before the learned trial Court that untested recovered substance was not a narcotics substance. It has, thus been maintained by him that the conviction and the sentence of the appellants for entire quantity of 71.1 Kg Charas/Charas Garda had correctly been recorded by the learned trial Court.
9.         After hearing the learned counsel for the parties and going through the record of the case, we have observed that the question of taking samples had always remained a point of controversy in numerous cases decided by the honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan and divergent opinions had been expressed by different honourable Benches of the august Supreme Court.
10.       Initially in the case titled "Nadir Khan and another v. The State" (1998 SCMR 1899) it was held by Three Member Shariat Appellate Bench as follows:--
            "It was not necessary to take samples from every one of the packets and the required evidence has been produced to connect the report with the sample notwithstanding the omission to produce the carrier of the sample".
Later on, in the case of "Ali Muhammad and another v. The State" (2003  SCMR  54)   it   was   held   by   the   August   Supreme  Court  as under:--
            "It would be just and proper that reasonable quantity of narcotic drug/controlled substance is sent to Chemical Examiner for analysis considering that in some cases the case property could be in thousands of Tons which could cause great hardship, inconvenience in sending and transporting the same and would also cause delay in getting the report, so also in disposal of cases. Therefore, the said contention raised before us have no merit and substance."
The  same view was held by Three Member Bench of the august Supreme Court in case of "Kashif Aamir v. The State" (PLD 2010 SC page 1052).
            It is, however observed that the different view of the matter had been taken by the honourable Supreme Court in the case of "Muhammad Hashim v. The State" (PLD 2004 SC 856) and it had been observed that since only four grams of Charas was taken out from total 288 Rods and nothing was available on record to show whether sample for examination by Chemical Examiner was taken out from each Rod to ascertain that 288 Rods were of Charas or some other commodity having resemblance with the colour of Charas like Oil Cake etc. It was for the first time observed by the honourable Supreme Court that C.N.S. Act, 1997 provided stringent sentences, therefore, for such reason Act, 1997 has to be construed strictly and the relevant provisions of law are to be followed strictly in the interest of justice and it was held that it would be presumed that the sample was taken out from only one Rod. As far as, remaining Rods are concerned, in absence of any sample taken out from them, it would be not possible to hold that those were the Rods of Charas or otherwise and the honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan in this judgment observed that the case of prosecution had become doubtful and as such sentence awarded by the trial Court and maintained by the High Court was held to be not sustainable.
11.       Since there had been divergent approaches adopted and opinions expressed in different judgments by the honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan, the matter was finally resolved by Five Members Full Bench of the honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan in a case of "Ameer Zaib v. The State" (PLD 2012 SC 380). It was held by the honourable Full Bench that rule of thumb for safe administration of criminal justice is the harsher the sentence the stricter the standard of proof.
12.       It is, thus of paramount importance to mention that the sentence specified in C.N.S. Act, 1997 depend upon the quantity of the recovered narcotics substance and, thus, quantity is the determinative factor as far as the sentences are concerned. It is, absolutely necessary that in all such cases there should be no room for doubt as to the exact quantity of the substance recovered and also as to entire recovered substance is a narcotic substance. We may also observe that in these cases, it is an accused person who is at the receiving end of long and stringent punishments and thus safeguards from his point of view should not be allowed to be sacrificed at the altar of mere comfort and convenience of the prosecution.
13.       The honourable Supreme Court in Ameer Zaib's case therefore held that a separate sample of every separate packet/cake/slab of the substance allegedly recovered from an accused person be sent for separate analysis by the Chemical Examiner in order to confirm and establish beyond doubt that the entire quantity of allegedly recovered substance was indeed a narcotic substance. The honourable Supreme Court went on to observe as under:--
            "It is our considered opinion that a sample taken of a recovered substance must be a representative sample of the entire substance recovered and if no sample is taken from any particular packet/cake/slab or if different samples taken from different packets/cakes/slabs are not kept separately for their separate analysis by the Chemical Examiner, then the sample would not be representative sample and it would be unsafe to rely on the mere word of mouth of the prosecution witnesses regarding the substance of which no sample has been taken or tested being narcotic substance. It may be true that at least in some situation, the Control of Narcotic Substances Act, 1997 stipulates dis-proportionately long and harsh sentence and, therefore, for the purpose of safe administration of criminal justice some minimum standards of safety are to be laid down so as to strike a balance between the prosecution and the defence and to obviate chances of miscarriage of justice on account of exaggeration by the Investigating Agency".
14.       As far the contention of the learned Special Public Prosecutor A.N.F. that since the appellants had not objected during the trial that the substance of which no sample had been taken or tested was not narcotics substance and the appellants are estopped from asserting in that regard at all future stages of the case. We are not persuaded to agree with this reasoning. We should not lose sight of the fact that if at the time of framing of charge, the accused person denies the allegation levelled against him by the prosecution; he has suggested to the prosecution witnesses that nothing had been recovered from his possession or custody and in his statement recorded under section 342, Cr.P.C. he had controverted the allegations regarding recovery of narcotic substance from his possession or custody then mere failure in challenging during the trial that remaining untested recovered substance was not narcotics substance could neither weaken the case of defence nor strengthen the case of the prosecution. It is sometimes argued that an accused person ought to have applied before the trial Court either for retesting of the sample sent to the Chemical Examiner for analysis or for testing of remaining recovered substance if he seriously raises a dispute in that regard. This kind of an approach needs a lot of caution and the same has already been warned against by the honourable Supreme Court in the cases of "The State v. Amjad Ali" (PLD 2007 SC page 85) and "Muhammad Aslam (Amir Aslam) and others v. District Police Officer Rawalpindi and others." (2009 SCMR 141) it has been held in the said case that such a course is to be allowed and resorted to only in extra-ordinary circumstances.
15.       The honourable Supreme Court in Ameer Zaib case has discussed this aspect of trial under C.N.S. Act, 1997 as under:--
            "The learned special prosecutor for Anti Narcotics Force has laid great emphasis on the provisions of Section 29 of the Control of Narcotic Substances Act, 1997, according to which in trials under this Act, it may be presumed, unless and until the contrary is proved, that the accused has committed an offence under this Act ----" and shall be maintained by him that the prosecution allegation that the entire quantity of substances recovered from an accused person is a narcotics substance is presumed to be correct and it is for the accused person to prove otherwise. We have, however refused to subscribe to this submission for simple reason that in cases of Kashif Aamir v. The State (PLD 2010 SC 1052) and Muhammad Noor and others v. The State (2010 SCMR 927), it has clearly been laid down that initial onus to prove the offence and recovery of narcotic substance from the accused person is always on the prosecution and once the prosecution has discharged that onus to the satisfaction of the Court, it has only been then that the onus shifts to accused person to establish falsity of prosecution allegation against him. It goes without saying that initial onus on the prosecution in such cases includes the onus to prove that the entire substance allegedly recovered is in fact narcotic substance and such onus can be discharged by the prosecution only if the samples of the recovered substance sent to the Chemical Examiner for analysis are representative samples of the entire quantity of the recovered substance.
           For the purpose of clarity and removal of confusion, it is declared that where any narcotic substance is allegedly recovered while contained in different packets, wrappers or any kind or in the shape of separate cakes, slabs or any other individual and separate physical form, it is necessary that a separate sample is to be taken from every separate packet, wrapper or container and from every separate cake, slab or other form for chemical analysis and if that is not done then only that quantity of narcotic substance is to be considered against the accused person from which a sample was taken and tested with a positive result".
16.       Although, the word "Sample" or "Representative Sample" has not been denied in C.N.S. Act, 1997.
The word sample according to Black's Law Dictionary (6th Addition) has been defined as under;--
            "Sample" A specimen. A small quantity of any commodity presented for inspection or examination as evidence of the quality of the whole; as a sample of cloth or wheat.
            The term sample defined in Concise Oxford Dictionary is as under:-
            "Sample" Small separated part of something illustrating the qualities of mass----.
            This would now take us to  The connotation of "Representative Sample".
            Representative Sample would mean a small quantity of something such as customer, data, people, products or material whose characteristics represents (as accurately as possible) the entire batch, lot etc.
            This leads us to an irresistible conclusion that when a sample is not "Representative" of the entire lot, it would result into a sampling error.
            The above definitions of the word "Sample" and "Representative Sample" within the purview of C.N.S. Act, 1997 makes it explicit that the sample sent for chemical examination must be a Representative Sample of each separate wrapper/slab/packet or box. If it is not the Representative Sample of each wrapper/slab/packet or box, it cannot be termed as a sample of the entire narcotic substance allegedly recovered from the accused; keeping in view the unproportionately harsher and stringent punishments provided in the C.N.S. Act, 1997. The convenience of the prosecution cannot be allowed to circumvent the fundamental rights of the accused.
17.       In the case in hand, 25 boxes were recovered, 19 boxes contained a slab of Charas weighing 3 Kg each, one box contained a slab of Charas weighing 1.6 Kg, five boxes contained 2.3 Kg Charas Garda, but according to the prosecution only a small and unspecified quantity was taken  from every slab of Charas which was then mixed up and made into  one  sample  of  30 Grams which was thereafter bifurcated into three samples of 10 Grams each and sent to Chemical Examiner for analysis, but we are inclined to hold that three samples of Charas weighing 10 Grams each were not three independent samples but they were representative of initial sample of 30 Grams which was prepared after  taking  small  and  unspecified  quantity  from  20  slabs  of Charas (19 weighing 3 Kg each and One weighing 1.6 Kg) Similarly, from five boxes of Charas Garda, a small and unspecified quantity was taken which was mixed and one parcel of 10 Grams was sent to the Chemical Examiner for analysis and the report in that regard by Chemical Examiner had been received in positive, therefore for safe administration of justice, we conclude that the appellants were liable to be held responsible for having slabs of Charas and Charas Garda weighing 5.3 Kg.
18.       We are inclined to hold that C.N.S. Act, 1997 is a special law which provides for stringent and long punishments. The sentences specified in C.N.S. Act, 1997 depend upon quantity of recovered Narcotic Substance and not upon the Narcotic content of the recovered substance. Therefore, special care should be taken in these cases by putting the prosecution to the strict test to prove its case and there should be no room for doubt as to the exact quantity of the substance recovered and also to ensure that the entire recovered substance is a Narcotic Substance.
            Where wrappers, slabs, cakes, packets, boxes, containers etc are recovered, it is mandatory to take separate sample from every separate packet, wrapper, slab, box, container and cake to make it a Representative Sample of Narcotic Substance recovered.
            It is true that in exceptional cases huge quantity of narcotic substance is recovered which could cause great hardship and inconvenience in sending and transporting the same and would also cause delay in getting the report and delay in disposal of cases. However, we would add a note of caution that sacrifice of justice to obtain speedy disposition of cases can hardly be termed as justice. A balance ought to be maintained between the two commonly known maxims, "Justice delayed is justice denied" and " justice rushed is justice crushed". We are  not suggesting that speed and efficiency ought not to be ultimate goal in criminal administration of justice but it should not be at the expense of justice.
            The mere convenience of prosecution cannot be given precedence over the fact that the prosecution is to be put to the strictest test of proof keeping in view the harsher and stringent punishments provided in C.N.S. Act, 1997.
19.       The  report  from  jail  received  through  letter  No.27867 dated 10-10-2013 reveals that appellant Baz Muhammad had already served out 16 years 11 months and 22 days including the remissions while the report from jail sent through letter No.5367 dated 9-10-2013 shows that appellant Aziz Ullah Khan had served out sentence of 17 years six months and 14 days including the remissions. In this way they have served out more sentence as provided in the sentencing policy laid down in the case of "Ghulam Murtaza and another v. The State" (PLD 2009 Lahore 362).
20.       Accordingly, though, we uphold the conviction of appellants under section 9(c) of Control of Narcotic Substances Act, 1997 but reduce their sentences to already undergone by them including the fine.
21.       Both the appeals stand disposed of in the above mentioned terms.

HBT/A-8/L                                                                                          Sentence reduced.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Contact International Lawyer

If you have any queries related with this post you can contact at internationallawyerinfo@gmail.com

Regards,
Salman Yousaf Khan
Chairperson
International Lawyer
+92-333-5339880