Definition of Poppy Straw and Chemical Examiners’ Report

Definition of Poppy Straw and Chemical Examiners' Report Case Laws Chemical Examiner - Narcotics Criminal Appeal Criminal Law Knowledge - Criminal Law Litigation & Arbitration Narcotics Poppy Solutions - Criminal Law Supreme Court Mr. Justice Dost Muhammad Khan in his judgment has decided the issue regarding definition of poppy straw and chemical examiners’ report of narcotics substance in Criminal Appeals No. 163 of 2013 etc.

1. This single judgment shall also decide Criminal Appeal No.164/2013 filed from Jail by Taj Muhammad as both are against the same judgment of Lahore High Court Rawalpindi Bench, Rawalpindi dated 16.5.2013 and because both are out come of the same crime FIR No. 174 dated 17.7.2007 registered by Police Station, Hasan Abdal district Attock under Section 9(c) of Control of Narcotic Substances Act, 1997. Arguments of the learned counsel for the appellants and learned counsel on behalf of State heard and record carefully perused.

2. On the above date, at 7.00 am truck No.P-3388/Peshawar was intercepted by Shakeel Ahmed, Inspector/SHO/I.O., Police Station, Hasan Abdal alongwith his police party. After a brief chase, the same was brought to halt. The present appellant was found on the front seat, while Taj Muhammad appellant of the connected appeal, was occupying the driver seat. On search of the body/deck of the truck, 160 bags ground poppy, each weighing 50 kilograms, total weight 8000 kilograms was recovered. Allegedly, small quantity from each bag, total weighing 500 grams was separated for examination by the Chemical Examiner for his opinion and report, while bulk of stuff was separately taken into possession. Both the appellants were arrested.

3. The Chemical Examiner report Ex-PD dated 25.7.2007 reveals as follows:

“The sample was examined and I was led to conclude that it was poppy head. Test on back page. The above packet contains crushed poppy heads which can be used to cause intoxication”

4. On the reverse page of the report, for his own convenience, the Chemical Examiner has put a rubber stamp and only the blanks have been filled without showing the percentage of Meconnic Acid, Sulphuric Acid, Porphyroxin, Alkaloids, Morphine and Codeine. According to chemical and physiological formula, the combination of these acids and alkaloids of required percentage would constitute narcotics substance of a prohibited degree.

5. Today when the case was taken up for hearing, the learned State counsel simply relied on the definition given in Section 2, clause (t) which is reproduced below:

“(t) “opium” means…..(i) poppy straw, that is to say, all parts of the poppy plant (papaver somniferum or any other species of papaver after mowing, other than the seeds;”

6. He also referred to Clause (w) of Section–2 defining poppy straw which is as follows:

“(w) “poppy straw” means all the parts, except the seeds of the opium poppy after mowing;”

7. In view of the legal controversy, we have carefully attended to this aspect of the matter and found that the report of Chemical Examiner as is common to all experts on the subject is a rough work not upto the mark. We have noticed with great concern that Chemical Examiners are taking this important task very lightly, conveniently ignoring the fact that their report alone would render the substance to be a particular narcotic substance because under the provision of Section 34 of Control of Narcotic Substances Act, 1997, the Federal Government has been authorized to set up Narcotic Testing Laboratories and such other Institutes and Narcotics Testing Research Laboratories or notify any other laboratory or institute to be a Federal Narcotics Testing Laboratory for carrying out the purpose of the Act. Under the provisions of Sub-section-2 thereof, the Provincial Governments have also been vested with the same and the similar authority.

8. With few exceptions, both the Federal and Provincial Governments have almost notified the existing Narcotics Testing Laboratories for the purpose of section 34 of the Narcotics Substance Control Act, 1997 and did not establish modern laboratories, well equipped with the modern techniques, managed and headed by the experts of required qualifications and experience, essential for chemical analysis of narcotics. In this way, both the governments have not fulfilled their statutory obligation under the provision of section law. This kind of uncaring attitude on the part of the Executive fully exposes the degree of interest it has taken, to assist in the administration of justice on the matters relating to narcotics substance. For this very reason, the raw hands so-called experts and ill-equipped laboratories are forwarding reports to the Courts, bereft of sound reasons, the chemical and physiological formula and percentage of each alkaloid found in the substance is conspicuously omitted essential to form a fair conclusive opinion regarding its potency of causing intoxication.

9. Opium or opium derivatives are obtained from opium poppies (papaver somniferum), the most popular and attractive garden plants. The opium latex inside the pod is obtained through indigenous process. Sharp cuts/incision is given puncturing the pod, the liquid/latex starts leaking out and coagulates around the pod and after many hours when it changes the colour, the dried latex is scrapped. The same is then transformed into baked or consumable opium through indigenous process of light heating.

10. The baked/dried opium contains two main groups of Alkaloids. The first group is morphine, codeine and thebaine. The other group is Isoquinolines, such as papaverine and Noscapine. The First group falls within the definition of dangerous drugs (narcotics substance) as the same significantly effects the central nerve system. If the opium is chemically processed then, synthetic morphine, heroin and codeine are procured therefrom. Amongst the first category morphine is placed in the most dangerous drug like heroin. The first category of alkaloids in opium contains 10% to 16% morphine having dangerous/harmful effects causing lungs edema, respiratory conjunction, ultimately leading to collapse of cardiac and respiratory system. Although under a proper licensing system, it is also used for medicinal purpose but the smugglers involved in illegal business, supply the same to the drug edicts throughout the world.

11. Under the provision of section 34 (ibid) read with the relevant rules, the opinion of the notified expert alone is admissible in evidence and the person found in possession of narcotics substance is invariably punished on the opinion of the expert because the Investigating Officer, the Prosecutor or the Judges being not expert on the subject cannot give legally acceptable opinion to this effect. In this way, very heavy responsibility is placed on the qualified Chemical Examiner by the law to give well reasoned, authoritative and detailed opinion about a particular narcotics substance.

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