Is possessing, selling ganja seeds also an offence? SC to decide
NEW DELHI: Cultivation, selling or possessing ganja and other cannabis plants is an offence under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, but the Supreme Court is now grappling with a tricky question: What about ganja seeds and is selling or possessing them also an offence under the Act?
A bench of Justices Hrishikesh Roy and Sanjay Karol agreed to adjudicate the issue after it was contended by advocate Somesh Chandra Jha, appearing for an accused, that NDPS Act is attracted in case a person is found in possession of cannabis plants and not the seeds.
Referring to Section 2 of the Act, Jha submitted that a bare reading of the Act shows that the legislature has consciously excluded seeds of Ganja from the definition of cannabis. As per the definition of Ganja in the Act, it is the flowering or fruiting tops of the cannabis plant, and when the flowering or fruiting tops are not accompanied, the seeds and leaves are to be excluded.
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Agreeing to hear the plea of the accused who was arrested by Gujarat Police for possessing and selling Ganja, the bench issued notice to the state government and directed it to respond to the petition within a month. “Somesh Chandra Jha, learned counsel for the petitioner refers to Section 2(iii)(b) of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act) to point out that Ganja seeds are excluded from the definition of cannabis (hemp) under the NDPS Act. The counsel refers to the statement of the I.O. to point out that what was being dealt with was seeds of Ganja and, therefore, the application of the NDPS Act may not have been warranted. Issue notice,” the court said in its brief order and posted the case to March 31.
Section 8 of the Act prohibits the cultivation of any cannabis plant except for medical or scientific purposes and in the manner and to the extent provided by the provisions of the Act and the rules and orders made thereunder.
The accused approached the apex court after his plea for bail was rejected by Gujarat HC. He was caught after being named by another accused who was indulged in cultivation of Ganja and accused him of supplying seeds.
Challenging the order of HC, the petition said, “Prosecution’s whole case hinges on the purported statement made by accused no.1, wherein the petitioner has been portrayed as the person from whom the seed of Ganja was purchased. However, such statements recorded by the prosecution cannot be used to implicate the petitioner. It is pertinent to note that no contraband has been recovered from the petitioner. A 3-judges bench of this Court was pleased to categorically hold that statements recorded u/s 67 cannot be used as confessional statements during the course of trial.”