Proposal to set-up Forensic Narcotics Divisions in drug menace ridden J&K gathering dust

File shuttling between FSL Directorate, Home, Finance Deptts

Directives of Apex Court, HC being flouted with impunity

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, June 21: Due to lack of coordination between Government departments, a proposal to set up Forensic Narcotics Divisions in drug menace ridden Jammu and Kashmir is gathering dust in the official files during the past several months. The absolute non-serious approach in this regard is notwithstanding the explicit directions from Supreme Court as well as Division Bench of the State High Court.
Moreover, no serious attention has so far been paid towards establishment of five Regional Forensic Science Laboratories and creation of adequate facility for storage of the seized drugs.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that in order to ensure timely examination of all the seized narcotics drugs and psychotropic substances and render prompt opinion to the investigating agencies for speedy trials in the cases registered under Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPSA), the Supreme Court while dealing with Criminal Appeal No.652 of 2012 titled Union of India Versus Mohan Lal and Another had in the month of January 2016 passed numerous directions to the States for strict compliance in a time bound manner.
Two important directives were pertaining to establishment of Forensic Narcotics Divisions in those States which don’t have such a facility and creation of adequate facilities for storage of the seized drugs so as to prevent theft, pilferage or replacement.
However, there was no compliance to the directives of the Apex Court of the country by the Jammu and Kashmir Government and this aspect came up for discussion before the Division Bench of the State High Court in the month of December last year during the course of hearing in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) titled Atharv Mahajan Versus State and Others.
In his status report dated December 24, 2018, the then Principal Secretary to Government, Home Department R K Goel submitted before the Division Bench headed by Chief Justice Gita Mittal that 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. He further submitted that proposal was under examination in the Home Department and will be cleared shortly.
“However, despite lapse of six months the proposal is still gathering dust in the official files”, sources said, adding “earlier the proposal remained in the Home Department for quite long time and presently it is lying in the Finance Department for approval as financial implications of Rs 64.78 lakh are involved in the creation of Forensic Narcotics Divisions”.
“The ball is in the court of Finance Department and we don’t know when the proposal will receive the concurrence”, said a senior officer of the Home Department on the condition of anonymity, adding “even a proposal for setting up of Regional Forensic Science Laboratories is pending for approval at the highest level in the Government”.
“The inordinate delay in setting up of Forensic Narcotics Divisions is notwithstanding the fact that Division Bench headed by Chief Justice had directed the Home Secretary and DGP to fix time-frame for making this facility available keeping in view the growing menace of drugs in the State”, sources said.
They further said, “even there is no compliance to the directives of the Apex Court as well as of State High Court about construction of adequate storage facilities for the seized drugs and psychotropic substances”.
Pointing towards the recent statement of Advisor to Governor K Vijay Kumar wherein stress has been laid on achieving high conviction rate in NDPSA cases, sources wondered: “How high conviction can be achieved when there is no exclusive Forensic Narcotics Division in the State for giving prompt opinion about the seized drugs”, adding “it is only when timely opinion is rendered the trial in the NDPSA cases can be expedited and taken to the logical conclusion”.
It is pertinent to mention here that exercise to make available adequate facility for storage of sized narcotics at least in Jammu was initiated in the past but the same could not yield desirable results because of certain reasons. Since then this vital aspect has not received the due attention of the Home Department as well as Jammu and Kashmir Police.