J&K yet to set up Forensic Narcotics Divisions, adequate storage facility for seized drugs

Apex Court directives remain unimplemented during past 3 yrs

DB directs Home Secy for prompt action

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Dec 27: Despite lapse of nearly three years, the State Home Department and Jammu and Kashmir Police have not implemented the Supreme Court’s directives on setting up of Forensic Narcotic Divisions and creation of adequate facility for the storage of seized drugs so as to ensure proper security against theft, pilferage and replacement.
Now, the Division Bench of the State High Court headed by Chief Justice Gita Mittal, while expressing serious concern over inaction on Apex Court’s orders, has directed the Home Secretary and Director General of Police to take action without further wastage of time.
The Supreme Court vide order dated 28th January 2016 in Criminal Appeal No.652 of 2012 titled Union of India Versus Mohan Lal and Another had directed: “No sooner the seizure of any narcotic drugs and psychotropic and controlled substances and conveyances is effected, the same shall be forwarded to the officer in-charge of the nearest police station, who shall then approach the Magistrate with an application for seizure and sampling”.
“The Central Government and its agencies and so also the State Governments shall within six months from today take appropriate steps to set up facilities for the exclusive storage of seized narcotic drugs and psychotropic and controlled substances and conveyances duly equipped with vaults and double locking system to prevent theft, pilferage or replacement of the seized drugs”, the Apex Court had further directed.
It was also mentioned in the order that the State Governments shall be free to set up a storage facility for each district in the State and depending upon the extent of seizure and store required, one storage facility for more than one districts. “Disposal of the seized drugs lying in the Police Maalkhans and other places used for storage shall be carried out by the District Development Commissioners concerned”, the Apex Court had stressed.
Moreover, the Supreme Court had directed for establishment of sufficient number of Forensic Narcotics Divisions for exhaustive analysis of the drugs and submission of timely findings to the investigating agency in order to ensure speedy trial of the cases under Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.
However, despite lapse of nearly three years the State Government has not implemented these directions of the Apex Court. Moreover, the procedure laid down by the Supreme Court for seizure, sampling and disposal of drugs is not being followed strictly by the Jammu and Kashmir Police.
This can be gauged from the status report dated December 24, 2018 filed by the R K Goel, Principal Secretary to Government, Home Department, in response to the directives issued by the Division Bench of the State High Court in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) titled Atharv Mahajan Versus State and Others.
The status report states that the Director General of Police has addressed a communication dated December 20, 2018 intimating that the Directorate of Forensic Science Laboratory J&K has submitted a proposal to the Home Department for establishment of two Forensic Narcotic Divisions with creation of staff and Forensic Science Laboratory at Jammu/Srinagar.
In the proposal, creation of 16 posts involving the financial implications of Rs 64.78 lakh has been recommended. “However, the proposal is under examination of the Home Department”, the Division Bench comprising of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Tashi Rabstan was informed.
About storage facility for the seized narcotics, it has been mentioned in the status report that the issue was taken up with the Principal District and Sessions Judges. At District Court Complex Jammu, the land for construction of Malkhana was identified and handed over to the police for construction of building. But before the construction could commence, Bar Association Jammu got the land allocation stayed.
“It appears that the construction of adequate storage facilities for drugs and psychotropic substances which are seized by the police is not available”, the Division Bench observed.
While expressing concern over inaction on the Apex Court directives, the DB has directed the Home Secretary and DGP to place before the court before February 7, 2019 the time-line within which the Narcotics Divisions and Forensic Science Laboratories would be set up and steps for effecting the recruitment against the necessary posts be completed.
About storage facility, the DB has directed that the issue shall be examined by the State Government and alternate land be made available for construction of the storage facilities of the seized narcotics before next date of hearing—February 7, 2019.