NEW DELHI - The Supreme Court has held that male officers cannot frisk women for the purpose of confiscating contraband materials like narcotics, as it is illegal.
The Court stated, during hearing of a case related to confiscation of narcotics, that any personal search of a woman by male officers amounts to violation of Sub-section 4 of Section 50 of the Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Act.
Making observations in a case a three-judge Bench comprising Justice S.B. Sinha, Justice Mukundakam Sharma and Justice H. L. Dattu observed, “Personal search of the accused was conducted by DSP Baldev Singh which as indicated herein before was violative of the provisions of Sub-section 4 of Section 50 of the Act,” a three-judge bench of Justices S B Sinha, Mukundakam Sharma and H L Dattu observed.
Search of women, if any, can be conducted only by women personnel, the apex court said.
The bench passed the ruling while dismissing an appeal filed by Punjab Government challenging the acquittal order passed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in favour of an old lady Gurnam Kaur and her daughters-in law- Ranjit Kaur and Gurjit Kaur.
A sessions court had convicted the trio for possessing narcotic substances and sentenced them to 12 years rigorous imprisonment.
However, on an appeal the High Court acquitted the accused on the ground that there were several infirmities in the prosecution’s case, besides holding as illegal the search of the women by male officers.
The State then filed an appeal in the apex court.
The three women were arrested by the police, who claimed that they recovered heroin and opium from their house at Thatha village in Amritsar district and DSP Baldev Singh claimed to have personally conducted the search of the trio.