Torn bag containing contraband does not amount to tampering: SC

NEW DELHI, Feb 27:
Mere tearing of a bag containing a case property does not amount to tampering of evidence, the Supreme Court has said, holding two men guilty of possessing commercial quantity of a contraband substance.
The top court reversed the order passed by the Himachal Pradesh High Court on April 2, 2015, acquitting the two on the ground that police has produced in the court a torn bag containing contraband, raising serious doubts over its origin and authenticity.
A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and R Banumathi said in the absence of any animosity between the police and the accused, it is unlikely that the contraband substance had been planted or foisted in their vehicle. Advocate D K Thakur, appearing for the state government, said the bag containing contraband was produced in the trial court on September 15, 2009, in a torn condition and the police personnel had testified that the parcel weighing 18.5 kg was torn after it was kept on a stool fitted with nails.
The bench noted that the samples of contraband were sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory on July 23, 2010, and there was nothing in the evidence to suggest that the substance was tampered with.
The apex court rejected another finding of the high court that no independent witness was examined by the prosecution despite their being a market located just 100 metres from the point of recovery which was on the busy highway.
It noted the prosecution version which said that independent witnesses were not available to witness the recovery of the contraband due to the extreme cold condition in the month of January at 6.30pm on the Manali-Kulu road.
“We are of the opinion that the grounds on which the High Court have reversed the findings of conviction of the accused-respondents ought not to be accepted,” it said.
The top court restored the order of trial court by which it had convicted two persons Pradeep Kumar and Kumar and awarded them 12-year jail term along with Rs 1.5 lakh fine each.
“We…Set aside the order of the High Court acquitting the accused-respondents and restore the order of the learned trial court convicting the accused-respondents under Section 20 read with Section 29 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985,” it said. (PTI)