Put mechanism in place for strict adherence to provisions of NDPS Act, SOP: DB to Govt

Serious concern expressed over dishonest investigation
Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, Mar 11: Division Bench of High Court comprising Justice Sanjeev Kumar and Justice Mohan Lal, while dismissing the appeal filed by the UT against the acquittal in NDPS case, has directed the respondents to put a mechanism in place so that the provisions of law, the Rules framed there under and Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) prepared by the Home Department are strictly adhered to.
The DB further directed the respondents to have a proper selection procedure in place to select and appoint competent Public Prosecutors. “We cannot shut our eyes to the fact that menace of drug trafficking and consumption of drugs in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir is fast gripping in and it is high time that all the authorities responsible for investigation and prosecution of the cases under NDSP Act are well equipped and educated to handle the investigations and prosecutions”, the DB added.
“Sporadic seminars and webinars aimed at educating the Investigating Officers and the Public Prosecutors are not sufficient to meet the challenge(s). There ought to be regular workshops to be conducted by the police within or outside the UT of Jammu and Kashmir so that the Investigating Officers are professionally trained to conduct these investigations. What, however, is lacking completely is the accountability”, the DB remarked.
“We have not come across any mechanism or procedure in place where negligent and or dishonest investigators are made to account for their lapses which many a times they deliberately make to confer wrongful advantage on the persons accused of offences under NDSP Act and their handlers”, DB said, adding “we have invariably seen that whenever huge quantity of contraband is recovered from a person traveling in a vehicle, it is the driver or one or two carriers with him who are booked and prosecuted, but no effort is made by the police to find out the origin from where the contraband has emanated and the destination where it was supposed to be delivered”.
“In this way, we only try to prosecute the carriers and not the handlers of these carriers who are responsible to run the trade in an organized manner”, DB added and directed that the Department of Home, UT of Jammu and Kashmir, Director General of Police, J&K and the Director General Prosecution to find out as to in how many cases an effort has been made by the police to find out the origin and the destination of the contraband seized while in transit.
DB further observed, “we are sure that an honest enquiry, if any made, in this regard would reveal some sort of connivance between some of the police officers/officials and the drug mafia. In the instant case, Enquiry Officer, however, has, as expected, given clean chit to the police, but we leave it to the wisdom of the authorities who are responsible to maintain law and order to look into this aspect with some more seriousness”.
“Hopping that the respondents are alive to the alarming situation created by the free flow of drugs throughout the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, we leave it to them to take appropriate corrective and remedial measures and wish not to say anything more. After all, responsibility to maintain law and order lies with the executive and we, as courts, are only obligated to apply law as it is”, the DB observed.
Accordingly, DB directed Registry to send copy of judgment to the Secretary to Government, Home Department, Director General of Police, Secretary to Government Law Department and Director General Prosecution.
This significant judgment has been passed in an appeal filed by the UT aggrieved by the judgment of acquittal dated 26.12.2013 recorded by the Principal Sessions Judge, Jammu whereby the respondents have been acquitted of the charges under Sections 8/20/60 of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 1985 and prayed for leave to appeal.