New Delhi, Nov 6 She succeeded in getting the stigma of conviction removed by the Delhi High Court in a narcotics case, but not before having served the full 10-year jail term imposed by a trial court.
The foreign national was arrested on October 15, 2008 for allegedly possessing contraband Heroin in her luggage at the airport here.
The high court passed the verdict on her appeal against the trial court's 2014 judgement on October 25, just 10 days after she completed the sentence.
Justice C Hari Shankar said the woman, Annabelle Analista Malibago, would be entitled to be released forthwith unless her detention was required in connection with any other case.
The high court said it was clear that the entire investigation and consequent trial and conviction of the woman stood vitiated by the sole fact of prosecution witness Anju Singh, the complainant as well as the investigating officer (IO) of the case lodged by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI).
"The submission of the woman's counsel to the effect that, if the complainant, who has filed the complaint in a case relating to prosecution under the NDPS Act, was herself/ himself the IO, the entire investigation and subsequent prosecution and trial stand vitiated, and that the accused is entitled, ipso facto, to acquittal, merits acceptance," the court said.
It said the woman was entitled to be acquitted of the offence for which she stood convicted by the trial court and allowed her appeal.
Pursuant to receipt of a secret intelligence, DRI caught Annabelle on October 15, 2008, at the check-in-counter of an airlines with 1.240 kgs of heroin concealed in her trolley bag.
Samples of the material were collected and sent to laboratory which revealed that the powder was heroin of 35.6 per cent purity, prosecution had said.
Challenging her conviction and sentence by the trial court, the woman filed an appeal in the high court contending that the entire case against her was vitiated as the IO herself was the complainant, who had submitted the written complaint from which criminal proceedings started against her.
The DRI's counsel cited a Supreme Court verdict and said the proceedings are to be vitiated where the informant was the IO, and not where the complainant was the IO.
He stated that there was a distinction between an informant and a complainant, and that the cases investigated by the DRI are based, not on information, but on intelligence sourced by the DRI and the documents recovered.
The high court in its verdict noted that "in every criminal prosecution, it was essential that the investigation, on the face of it, had to be free, judicious and just, and that it had also to appear to be so, eschewing any conduct or impression which may give rise to a real and genuine, and not a mere fanciful, apprehension, in the mind of the accused, that the investigation was not fair." SKV HMP RKS SA