Poverty Of Accused Is Not A Mitigating Factor While Awarding Punishment Under NDPS Act: Supreme Court


A bench comprising of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah, in the case of Gurdev Singh vs. State of Punjab, observed that while striking balance between the mitigating and aggravating circumstances, public interest impact on the society as a whole will always be tilted in favour of the suitable higher punishment. The accused in this case was found to be in possession of 1 kg heroin which is four times more than the minimum commercial quantity.

The Special Court convicted the accused for the offense punishable under Section 21 of the Act and sentences him to 15 years rigorous imprisonment and fine of Rs. 2 Lacs. As the High Court dismissed his appeal, the accused approached the Supreme Court, which upheld the conviction and sentence imposed. The Bench observed that the quantity of narcotic substance recovered is a relevant factor that can be taken into account for imposing higher than the minimum punishment under NDPS.

In the appeal to the Apex Court, the accused contended that the mitigating circumstances are more in favour of the accused and therefore in the facts and circumstances of the case the punishment/sentence higher than the minimum provided under the Act is not warranted. It was submitted that the accused is a poor man and the only breadwinner of the family. The Court observed that these crimes have a deadly impact on society as a whole and thus while awarding the sentence/punishment in the case of NDPS Act, the interest of society as a whole is also required to be taken in consideration. 

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