'Statements by officers under NDPS are not confessions'

Statements by officers under NDPS cannot be treated as confessions: SC

Notably, a confession recorded by the police officer of an accused cannot be used against him under Section 25 of the Evidence Act

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The Supreme Court on Thursday held that statements recorded by officers under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act cannot be treated as confessions for conviction of the accused.

A three-judge bench by a majority view of 2:1 passed a landmark ruling, saying a statement recorded under Section 67 of the NDPS Act cannot be used as a confessional statement in the trial of an offence under the special law.

According to Section 67 of the NDPS Act, any officer authorised by the Centre or a state government may during an investigation call for information “from any person for the purpose of satisfying himself whether there has been any contravention of the provisions of this Act or any rule or order made thereunder”.

"The officers who are invested with powers under Section 53 of the NDPS Act are “police officers” within the meaning of Section 25 of the Evidence Act. As a result of which, any confessional statement made to them would be barred under the provisions of Section 25 of the Evidence Act, and cannot be taken into account in order to convict an accused under the NDPS Act," the majority view of Justices R F Nariman and Navin Sinha said.

Notably, a confession recorded by the police officer of an accused cannot be used against him under Section 25 of the Evidence Act.

Justice Indira Banerjee, however, differed with the majority view, saying she was unable to agree to a view that a statement recorded under Section 67 of the NDPS Act cannot be used against an accused offender in the trial of an offence.

"A confessional statement does not automatically result in the conviction of an accused offender. Such statements have to be tendered and proved in accordance with the law. The evidentiary value of the statement which is confessional in nature has to be weighed and assessed by the court at the trial," she said.

The court passed its judgement on a reference made by a division bench in 2013.