Unexplained delay in sending contraband articles to the Court: A fit case for giving the accused benefit of doubt

Kerala High Court: A Single Judge Bench of Annie John, J., allowed an appeal filed against the order of the trial court whereby accused was found guilty for the offence punishable under Section 58 of the Kerala Akbari Act.

The main issue that arose before the Court was whether the order of the trial court was good in law.

The Court observed that there was several loopholes in the investigation conducted by the police. Firstly, the sample of the contraband articles was sent to the Court after a delay for 4 days and such delay was unexplained by the prosecution. Secondly, the chemical analysis report was unclear and lastly, the forwarding note did not contain a sample seal. The appellant relied upon the case of Ramankutty v. Excise Inspector, Chelannur Range, 2013 (3) KHC 308, wherein it was held that an accused becomes entitled to the benefit of doubt if there is an unexplained delay on the part of the prosecution. The Court found this case applicable to the facts and circumstances of the instant case and it also observed that it was the duty of the prosecution to prove that the contraband articles were produced before the Court without any sort of tampering. The investigation under the Kerala Akbari Act could be conducted by the Akbari Officer appointed by the state government and every Akbari Officer had a territorial jurisdiction, however, in the instant case, the investigating officer was not authorized to investigate the matter since it was outside his territorial jurisdiction.

The Court after considering all the lacunae in the investigation held that the order of the trial court was liable to be set aside since it was based on such faulty investigation. Resultantly, the appeal was allowed and the order of the trial court was set aside.[Ravi v. State,2018 SCC OnLine Ker 4640, order dated 30-10-2018]

Join the discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.