DB modifies sentence in NDPS case

Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU, Apr 4: A Division Bench of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh High Court comprising Justice Sanjay Dhar and Justice Puneet Gupta has modified the sentence awarded in NDPS case from 12 years Rigorous Imprisonment (RI) to 10 years RI.
The appellant Nisar Ahmed Bhat challenged judgment dated 31.05.2022 passed by the Principal Sessions (Special Judge), Jammu whereby in a case arising out of NCB Crime No. 01/2017 for offences under Sections 8, 20 and 60 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, the appellant has been convicted and by virtue of a separate order passed on the same date, he has been sentenced to undergo Rigorous Imprisonment for a period of 12 years and to pay a fine of Rs one lakh.
After hearing Advocate IH Bhat for the appellant whereas DSGI Vishal Sharma for the NCB, the DB observed, “Section 20(C) of the NDPS Act prescribes punishment of not less than 10 years of Rigorous Imprisonment, which may extend to 20 years with fine, which shall not be less than Rs one lakh but may extend to Rs 2 lakh in a case involving commercial quantity of contraband”.
“In the instant case, there is nothing on record to show that the appellant has any previous history of committing similar offences or for that matter any criminal background. It has come in evidence on record that the appellant was only a carrier of the contraband who had done so for a small amount of Rs 10,000. It can be safely stated that the appellant is not the kingpin of the crime that has taken place but he is merely a pawn”, the DB said.
“In these circumstances, he deserves to be imposed a lesser punishment equivalent to the minimum punishment prescribed under Section 20(C) of the NDPS Act. 46. Apart from this, the trial court has erred in awarding simple imprisonment for default in payment of fine, while awarding Rigorous Imprisonment to the appellant. This is contrary to Section 66 of the RPC, which provides that imprisonment imposed in default of payment of fine, may be of the description of which the offender might have been sentenced for the offence”, the DB said.
With these observations, DB modified the order of sentence passed by the trial court and imposed sentence of Rigorous Imprisonment of 10 years with a fine of Rs one lakh upon the appellant. In default of payment of fine, the appellant shall undergo further Rigorous Imprisonment for a period of six months.