Growing drug abuse: DB underlines numerous issues for serious attention of State Police

Seeks report on SOP implementation, plugging smuggling routes

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Nov 23: Expressing concern over massive increase in the supply and usage of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances in Jammu and Kashmir, Division Bench of State High Court comprising Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Sanjeev Kumar has underlined numerous issues for serious attention of the State Police. Moreover, it has sought detailed report on implementation of Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) formulated for handling NDPSA cases and steps taken to plug the major routes of smuggling of narcotic drugs.
These directions were issued by the Division Bench in the Court On Its Own Motion Versus State of Jammu and Kashmir and Others.
When the Motion came up for hearing, Senior Additional Advocate General Wasim Sadiq Nargal appearing for the Home Department and State Police submitted before the Division Bench that in order to ensure that the investigation is conducted in a proper and professional manner by adhering to the mandatory provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPSA) and to minimize the acquittals in such cases the Home Department has come up with Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) vide Circular No.2 dated September 25, 2017.
All the officers entrusted with the investigation/prosecution in NDPSA cases have been directed by the Principal Secretary to Government, Home Department to strictly adhere to the provisions of the NDPSA and the procedures laid down in SOP, the Senior AAG further submitted.
However, Senior Advocate Sunil Sethi (Amicus Curiae) stressed that several areas have yet not received the due attention of the State Police and unless required focus is paid on these aspects the menace will remain unchecked up to large extent.
After hearing Senior AAG Wasim Sadiq Nargal and Senior Advocate Sunil Sethi, Division Bench headed by Chief Justice directed the Senior AAG to submit a status report with regard to the implementation in respect of each of the measures outlined in the Standard Operating Procedure.
“An affidavit shall also be filed indicating the extent of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances seized, of each category, in the last 10 years in whole of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The affidavit shall also indicate as to which are the major routes of travel of the narcotics drugs and psychotropic substances into the State and within the State”, the DB further directed.
Stating that there are only two Forensic Science Laboratories in the entire State-one at Srinagar and another at Jammu, the Division Bench asked, “what is the proposal of the State to set up additional Forensic Science Laboratories in both the divisions taking into account the increase in the number of drug related crimes as also other crimes”. Whether the Forensic Science Laboratories are equipped with modern scientific equipment or not as also trained personnel?, the DB further asked.
Noticing that there is a massive increase in the supply and usage of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, which are meant only to be prescribed to patients by the doctors, the DB said, “these drugs are in the form of capsules which are manufactured by pharmaceutical companies. The procedure for supplying these drugs to chemists is quite stringent under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and specific lot numbers are indicated whenever the supply or distribution of these drugs is done”.
Has the State ever tried to verify the lots when such drugs are recovered from the unauthorized persons?, the DB asked and directed that detailed affidavit should also be filed in this regard within a period of three weeks.
“The affidavit should also indicate what measures have been taken by the State to inform the educational institutions to take up programmes to create awareness about the menace of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances so that the students studying in these educational institutions themselves also keep away from such dangerous drugs and psychotropic substances”, the Division Bench further directed.
The State has further been directed to consider providing a Helpline Service with regard to reporting of any drug abuse etc. Keeping in view the importance of the issue, the DB directed the Registry to list the Motion on December 22, 2017. “The Amicus Curiae may also make additional submissions and recommendations on the next date of hearing”, the DB said.
It is pertinent to mention here that Home Department has come up with the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for NDPSA cases keeping in view the alarming level of acquittals and inefficiency of Jammu and Kashmir Police in dealing with such cases.
A large number of offenders in NDPSA cases are acquitted due to non-compliance of mandatory provisions and the prescribed procedure. In this way, the acquittals are creating a sense of insecurity in the society and undermining the faith of the common man in the administration of criminal justice.
The number of acquittals in NDPSA cases greatly out-numbers the convictions. For every conviction there are about nine acquittals in Jammu and Kashmir. While referring to the common reasons for failure of cases, the Home Department has observed in the Circular No.2 dated September 25, 2017 that civil witnesses are not associated during the course of investigation despite their availability on the spot.
Moreover, Army and para-military forces personnel are not cited as witness during a joint surprise check. “Weight balance is often taken from the open market either from some fruit vendor or shopkeeper but weighing of the contraband is not proved at the stage of trial. This is because the person from whom such weighing machine/balance was taken is invariably not examined as a witness”, the Home Department has further observed.
In majority of the cases police witnesses including SHO, IO, FSL expert, complainant and ex-Magistrate are not examined by the prosecution which results in the failure of the cases. The other shortcomings/common reasons for failure of cases pointed out by the Home Department include non-examination of witnesses during the course of trial or lesser number of witnesses, non-production of case property in the court for the purpose of identification by the prosecution and lack of seriousness on the part of prosecution in examining the material witnesses including the IO which has a direct bearing on the cases.


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