New Delhi: The Supreme Court has said that people dealing in narcotic drugs are instruments in inflicting death blow to innocent young victims who are vulnerable and cause deleterious effects on the society.
According to the apex court, smuggling of narcotics and psychotropic substances into the country and their illegal trafficking leads to drug addiction among a sizeable section of the public, particularly adolescents of both sexes, and the menace has assumed serious and alarming proportions.
The above was said by a bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah in its judgement while dismissing an appeal filed against the November 2019 verdict of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
The HC had upheld the order passed by a trial court convicting a man found in possession of 1 kg heroin, for the offence punishable under the provision of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act and sentenced him to jail for 15 years along with a fine of Rs 2 lakh.
In its order, the SC said that while awarding sentence in case of NDPS Act, the interest of the society as a whole is also required to be taken in consideration.
Considering the submission on behalf of the accused on mitigating and aggravating circumstances…it should be borne in mind that in a murder case, the accused commits murder of one or two persons, while those persons who are dealing in narcotic drugs are instruments in causing death or in inflicting death blow to number of innocent young victims who are vulnerable; it cause deleterious effects and deadly impact on the society; they are hazard to the society, the SC said.
The SC further said,oOrganised activities of the underworld and the clandestine smuggling of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances into this country and illegal trafficking in such drugs and substances shall lay to drug addiction among a sizeable section of the public, particularly the adolescents and students of both sexes and the menace has assumed serious and alarming proportions in the recent years.
The Supreme Court referred to its December last year order and noted that it had refused to interfere with the conviction of the accused for offence punishable under section 21 of the NDPS Act in the case and had issued notice confined to the question of sentence.
The bench noted that with the passage of time and developments in the field of illicit drug traffic and drug abuse at national and international level, it was noticed and found that the scheme of penalties under these Acts were not sufficiently deterrent to meet the challenge of well-organized gangs of smugglers.
Therefore, while striking balance between the mitigating and aggravating circumstances, public interest, impact on the society as a whole will always be tilt in favour of the suitable higher punishment, it added.
Therefore, merely because the accused is a poor man and/or a carrier and/or is a sole bread earner cannot be such mitigating circumstances in favour of the accused while awarding the sentence/punishment in the case of NDPS Act, it stated.