Punjab and Haryana High Court: Arvind Singh Sangwan, J., came down heavily on State Authorities for discrepancies in investigation of the NDPS cases in the State of Punjab. The Bench stated,
“Even the recent reply by the Joint Commissioner (Drugs) Food and Drugs Administration acknowledged the fact of recovery of 12.00 lacs tablets of ‘TRAMADOL’. Shockingly, in the affidavits, nothing is stated where the recovered stock of 12.00 lacs of TRAMADOL tablets has gone and even no batch number, etc., is given.”
Slamming the State authorities, the Bench added,
“This is a serious lapse and inaction on the part of the Punjab Police as well as the Drug Controller and this clearly reveals that everything is not normal with the investigation of the NDPS cases in the State of Punjab.”
The instant petition was filed praying for grant of regular bail by the petitioner-Sarabjit Singh who was in custody in relation to offences under Sections 20/22/61/85 of the NDPS Act.
Noticeably, a Team headed by two Drug Inspectors, along with one Intelligence Officer of NCB, Special Task Force, and other police officials had visited shop of the petitioner, where he had stocked allopathic drugs. The petitioner had produced RMP certificate, which did not authorize him to practice allopathic modern systems of medicine. During the investigation, the aforesaid drugs were recovered and since some of the drugs were covered under the NDPS Act, the FIR was registered under the NDPS Act.
Observation and Analysis
Noticing that there are increasing number of cases in the State of Punjab, wherein, primarily the carriers of drug are arrested by the police under the NDPS Act, however, the suppliers or source of acquiring drugs in majority cases do not come to fore which lead to acquittal in many cases, the Bench stated, .
“It is worth noticing that on an average out of every 10 cases listed before the Criminal Benches of this Court, 08 are from the State of Punjab and 01 case either from U.T., Chandigarh or State of Haryana.”
In Akash Medical Store v. State of Punjab, 2012 SCC OnLine P&H 13366, the Court had observed,
“All such retailers/stockists who are found to be in possession of habit forming drugs, which are not supported by purchase bills or any such stock of drugs which cannot be traced to their origin of purchase, should straightway lead to a presumption not only of a violation of terms of the license, but also to be a violation of the provisions of N.D.P.S. Act and F.I.R. should be registered but as a safeguard the F.I.R. should be registered only after such a licencee has been given adequate opportunity to produce records upto the appellate authority.”
Emphasizing over the news report published in ‘The Tribune’, that on the direction given by the Court, Amritsar (Rural) police had booked a Sub-Inspector and Assistant Sub-Inspector of Punjab Police under the NDPS Act for unnecessarily searching, detaining and arresting a person of two different Police Stations in Amritsar, the Bench expressed concern over false implication of innocent persons under NDPS Act by the Punjab Police, especially of Amritsar District. Pointing towards the lackadaisical attitude of the authority the Bench stated,
“…(although) there was a huge recovery of 12.00 lacs ‘TRAMADOL’ tablets in the case at hand, surprisingly, the affidavit of the Director Bureau of Investigation, which was filed about 1½ years ago, though, stated that an offence under Section 22/32 of the NDPS Act was made out, no FIR had been registered till date.”
In view of the above, the investigation was handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation as the Court opined that it was an exceptional case as Punjab State functionaries for the reason best known to them are intentionally protecting the drug offenders. The official of Punjab Police/office of the Joint Commissioner (Drugs), Food and Drugs Administration, were directed to hand over all the documents to C.B.I., along with the recovered 12.00 lacs ‘TRAMADOL’ tablets. The CBI, was directed to register an FIR and investigate the case. It was made clear that during the investigation, the CBI
- Shall ensure that the entire contraband recovered from M/s. Ravenbhel Pharmaceuticals Private Limited, is handed over to the CBI and in case, there is any shortage, C.B.I. will investigate whether the same is misused for implicating any innocent person;
- In case of shortage of recovery in possession of Punjab Police/Drug Department, CBI will prepare an inventory giving batch number, date of manufacture/expiry, name of manufacturer and will check from CFSL/FSL in State of Punjab if the ‘TRAMADOL’ tablets of same batch number are involved in any other FIR in the State to find out false implication of any innocent person by using this stock;
- In such eventuality, it will also be open to C.B.I. to check record of any Police Station or publish a notice in newspaper giving batch number and name of manufacturer, etc., so as to enable the defence counsels in different FIRs/cases to know about it and to take appropriate recourse before Court of law;
- To look into the involvement of any public servant under the aid of Section 120-B IPC in delaying the registration of an FIR or any other investigation, which it deem fit.
However, it was clarified that the directions were only with regard to the recovery from Ravenbhel Pharmaceuticals Private Limited. [Sarabjit Singh v. State of Punjab, CRM-M No. 28183 of 2019, decided on 02-08-2021]
Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.
For the Petitioner: N.S. Mahal, Advocate
For the State: Mr Joginder Pal Ratra, DAG, Punjab, Mr C.S. Bakshi, APP, U.T., Chandigarh and Mr Chetan Sharma, AAG, Haryana
For Union of India: Mr Satya Pal Jain, Additional Solicitor General of India with Mr Rajiv Sharma, Advocate for NCB