Section 32-A of The NDPS Act

Section 32-A of The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (‘Act’) reads as follows:

32-A. No suspension, remission or commutation in any sentence awarded under this Act Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 or any other law for the time being in force but subject to the provisions of Section 33, no sentence awarded under this Act (other than Section 27) shall be suspended or remitted or commuted.”

The Section does not take away the power of the Court to suspend the sentence awarded to the convict under the Act. That does not however confer a right on the convict to ask for suspension of the sentence as a matter of right in all cases.  A sentence awarded under the Act can be suspended by the Appellate Court only and strictly subject to the conditions spelt out in Section 37.

The petitioners in Tara Singh v. Union of India, [Writ Petition (Crl) No. 190 of 2014] prayed for the grant of a remission in exercise of power under Article 32 of the Constitution of India. Article 32 enables a citizen to move the SC for enforcement of his fundamental rights. The ‘factual matrix’ did not suggest that there had been violation of any fundamental right. The SC thus found the prayer “totally misconceived”.

It was open to the petitioners to seek relief either under Article 71 or 161 of the Constitution. But the argument that “when a pardon or remission can be given under Article 72 or 161 of the Constitution by the Constitutional Authority, the SC can exercise a similar power under Article 32” was considered, “absolutely based on an erroneous premise”.

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