Thursday, August 4 2022

Officials say the extremely low conviction rate indicates how loosely the strict provisions of the Narcotics Act are enforced.

NEW DELHI: Less than a quarter of the cases recorded in 2020 by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), which is the nodal agency to combat drug distribution in the country, resulted in a conviction. Similarly, only a fifth of those arrested were ultimately convicted by the courts.
According to officials, this extremely low conviction rate indicates how loosely the strict provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 1985, the main law under which the PNE operates, are being applied, in many cases to obtain illegal benefits and “harass” people, as was the case recently in the case of Aryan Khan, the son of actor Shahrukh Khan. In 2020, the NCB recorded 59,806 cases across India. However, he was only able to secure a conviction in 14,340 cases. (24% conviction rate). Similarly, of the 83,719 people arrested by the BCN during the said period, only 16,117 were found guilty by the courts (conviction rate of 19%). However, by the time the courts release people who, in a large number of cases, as the figures quoted above indicate, are wrongfully arrested, a lot of time is wasted during which the accused spends months in prison as a defendant and suffers a loss of income and prestige because he is presumed to be either a “drug dealer” or a “user”.
It is pertinent to mention that last week a single judge bench of the Bombay High Court referred the question of whether all offenses under the NDPS Act are not bailable to a wider bench. . In 2019, the cases filed by the BCN were 72,721 and it was able to secure a conviction in 32,085 cases. Of the 95,093 people arrested during the said period, only 35,495 were convicted.
The relevant figures for 2018 also paint a grim picture for the NCB. It registered 63,137 cases that year, of which it was only able to obtain a conviction in 28,333 cases. The number of people arrested during the same period was 81,778, of which he was only able to obtain a conviction in 32,364 cases.
Earlier this year, the Union government ordered an action against former NCB officer Sameer Wankhede, an Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer from 2008, for the series of actions he had taken to trap Aryan Khan. Wankhede was the NCB’s Mumbai zonal manager in October 2021 when he and his team prosecuted Khan who was in jail for three weeks. The same BCN later in May 2022 told a court that no drugs were found in the possession of Khan and another defendant.
In 2020, the top five states according to cases recorded by the NCB were Uttar Pradesh (10,852), Punjab (6,909), Tamil Nadu (5,403), Kerala (4,968) and Maharashtra (4 714). The number of those arrested in the same year in the respective states were 12,013, 11,455, 6,969, 5,140 and 7,437 respectively. “manual” for the field agents of the BCN so that they can better carry out their investigations. In his book, Mehta had said: “In our experience, very often, even in cases where adequate evidence is available, the courts have acquitted the defendant for technical reasons due to incorrect application of the provisions of the law. NDPS. Time and time again such mistakes have been made. Therefore, even when the seizures are large and the accused’s involvement is apparent, the accused may have escaped unscathed. Not only does this demoralize the investigating police officer, but it is also a setback for the organization in the fight against drugs.

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