The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that statements recorded by officers of central and state agencies who are appointed under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act would not be treated as a confession, Live Law reported.
The court in a 2:1 judgement said that such officers are police officers and so any confessional statement that they record under Section 67 of the NDPS Act would not be admissible in a court. The majority judgement was written by Justices Rohinton F Nariman and Navin Sinha, while Justice Indira Banerjee dissented.
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 officer may also “require any person to produce or deliver any document or thing useful or relevant to the enquiry” or examine any person acquainted with the case.
The majority judgement ruled that such statements would be hit by Section 25 of the Indian Evidence Act, which says that “no confession made to a police officer shall be proved as against a person accused of any offence”.
In 2013, a two-judge bench had referred the matter to a larger bench and asked if an officer investigating a case under the NDPS Act would qualify as a police officer and if a statement recorded by them can be treated as a confession.
According to earlier judgements in 1991 and 2008, Section 53 of the NDPS Act was not sufficient to make the officer a police officer and so statements recorded by them could not be treated as confessions, News18 reported. Thursday’s ruling holds that while these statements will not be admissible as evidence, the prosecution can use them for other purposes.