Hyderabad: Though the police show an increased graph of drug seizures and arrests in their annual round-up every year, more than 80 per cent of these cases end up in acquittal during prosecution.
Advocates from the Hyderabad criminal courts said that lack of proper investigation and failure to gather strong evidence against the accused in drug cases resulted in the acquittal of the accused.
Police often ‘create a scenario’ and add several sections of the law to make the case appear bigger than it actually is, advocate said. In the court, they fail to prove the charges, they said.
The state police said in the latest annual report, issued at the end of last year, that they had booked 1,233 cases under the NDPS (Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances) Act. The acquittal and trial figures were not documented as many of the cases were pending over 10 years.
Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, Sarjinderpal Singh Rana, a criminal law practitioner from Hyderabad, said that drug cases often resulted in acquittal because of lack in quality of evidence, lack of knowledge of the police probing the case and delaying in producing a witness in the court.
“If a person is caught smoking marijuana, the quantity of contraband seized would be a bailable one and not a felony quantity. However, the police often create a scenario and make a case that he was caught and booked for smoking, buying, selling and encouraging others to consume drugs. Though all these sections are added as per the NDPS Act and the media is briefed, the same is not proved in the court during prosecution, ending the trial in acquittal or with the accused given the benefit of the doubt,” Rana said.
Cases from 2012 were still pending in court due to lack of witnesses and improper way of investigation, said B. Vasudev Yadav, an advocate from the Nampally criminal court. “During the seizure of drugs, two independent witnesses must be present who must testify in court.
There is a lengthy procedure in seizing drugs and producing them in court, starting with sending samples to FSL (Forensic Science Laboratory) and taking signatures from the witnesses about the seizures etc. Only with strong evidence and even stronger witness testimonies can a case end in conviction,” he said.
Requesting anonymity, advocates said that most of the time the police nab offenders from Dhoolpet and add ganja cases to fill their monthly quota. “The Anti Narcotic Cell (ANC) of CCS Hyderabad has a quota of 50 cases per month, which is met by booking habitual drug offenders. The suspect is called to the police station and booked, which comes out during trial,” the advocate said.
“Most of the cases are made big by faulty investigation and just to show more arrests. Moreover, unlike in POCSO or property offences cases, there is no victim. Most of the time, the complainant is the police,” said the advocate.
In one such case, a police station located in the Central Zone of Hyderabad had arrested two youngsters for allegedly being in possession of 2.5 grams of methamphetamine on May 25. Sources close to the family of the accused claimed that the police had booked a false case with a made-up story.
On May 25, the police released a press note stating that on the night of May 24, they caught two youngsters, a student from Somajiguda and a chef from Goa, while they were trying to sell methamphetamine to customers at Himayatnagar Street No. 8. Sources said that the two were caught in possession of a small quantity of ganja but the police changed it to methamphetamine. They said the student was called by the cops from Somajiguda to Himayatnagar and placed under arrest as a part of their jurisdiction, whereas the press note said he was ‘caught selling drugs to needy customers’.
When asked about the low acquittal rates, Anti Narcotic Cell ACP K. Narsing Rao said that in most cases, foreigners and interstate offenders leave the city while the locals often get compromised.
“The NDPS is a procedural law and it might have procedure lapses. It talks about search, seizure and storage of evidence. In a 2016 guideline by the Centre, the FSL specimens should also be taken in front of the magistrate. In a recent case involving 200 kilos of ganja, the accused was given spot bail as the FSL specimen was collected without a magistrate. We cannot say who will interpret it in what way and that advantage is taken by the advocates. However, we are continuously training our staff and we will see good results in the coming days,” he said.
Narcotics and contraband seizures –
Hyderabad – Number of cases
Total number of accused arrested –
Cyberabad Cases –
2020 – 58
2021 – 205