LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) has commuted jail term of a convict in a drug case from as police failed to take separates samples of recovered substance from each piece rather sent only one consolidated sample that too from one piece to the Punjab Forensic Science Agency (PFSA) for chemical examination.

Partly allowing appeal of the convict, a two-judge bench observes that in the instant case, charas in three slabs weighing 1,062 grams was allegedly recovered from the appellant’s possession but, according to the prosecution, only 100 grams was taken as a sample which was sent to the forensic agency for analysis.

The bench rules: “Stringent sentences have been provided for the offences under Control of Narcotic Substances Act, 1997 as such heavy onus lies on the prosecution to prove the exact weight of the recovered stuff”.

It says the investigating officer who prepared recovery memo did not weigh the three slabs of the recovered charas during investigation. Similarly, it adds, during the trial the said three slabs of the recovered contraband were not weighed separately.

The judges observe that they, in the circumstances, are unable to determine the weight of each of the three slabs of the recovered material. Moreover, they remark, the prosecution’s case is also not clear as to from which of the three slabs of the recovered stuff, the sample parcel was prepared.

“In absence of this certainty, the prosecution case cannot be believed with respect to the weight of the recovered charas being 1,062 grams which had statedly been recovered from the appellant’s possession,” rules the bench.

“We are constrained to hold, in the circumstances of the case and the evidence available on record, that the prosecution has only been able to prove that 100.57 grams of charas was recovered from the possession of the appellant, this being the weight of charas, which was received at the Punjab Forensic Science Agency, Lahore,” observes the bench, comprising Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh and Justice Sadiq Mahmud Khurram.

The trial court had on Nov 24, 2018 sentenced appellant Ansar Abbas alias Pakori to six-year rigorous imprisonment under section 9 (c) of Control of Narcotic Substances Act, 1997 along with a fine of Rs40,000.

The high court, however, commuted the sentence from six years to one-year-and-three-month jail term with fine of Rs9,000 with an observation that the appellant was liable to be held responsible for having 100.57 grams of charas in his possession, which weight of recovered contraband attracts the provisions of section 9(b) of the Act.

Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2020