Stating that investigating officers (IOs) in Punjab who are probing cases under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act need to be trained with respect to the procedure of investigation in such cases, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the state director general of police (DGP) to ensure that such officers are trained by experts at the police academy in Jalandhar and Phillaur.
The bench of Justice Sureshwar Thakur said that in case the court notices any “deliberate breaches or departures” in future by the investigating officers or chemical analysts concerned, it will direct the DGP “to draw appropriate action… upon the errant police official(s) concerned, or qua the errant chemical examiner(s) concerned.”
Justice Thakur passed the order while hearing the bail plea of Bahadur Singh and Narinder Singh, held in NDPS cases in August 2021 in Patiala. The counsel for the two accused, advocates P S Sekhon and Harshit Jain, contended that they had been falsely implicated and were entitled to get bail. The high court found lapses in the procedure of investigation of the case, following which it allowed regular bail for the accused and held that they are to be released from judicial custody if not required in any other case.
The court held that it has repeatedly noticed blatant and gross lapses either by the investigating officers concerned or by the chemical examiner working at the forensic science laboratory (FSL) and that even at the time of production of the case property in the court “the investigating officers concerned are extremely negligent in making testifications”. It also pointed out negligence by chemical examiners in dealing with seals on cloth parcels.
Justice Thakur added that “it appears that the investigating officers concerned within the state of Punjab, who are investigating the NDPS cases, are required to be awakened with respect to the above” said it deemed fit to direct the Director General of Police, Punjab to ensure training for the officers by experts “at the police academy at Jalandhar and Phillaur.”
“Moreover, training is also required to be imparted to the chemical examiners concerned, who are deployed at the FSL concerned or the CTL (central testing lab) concerned…” it added. “The above blatant, and, gross negligence, had on earlier occasions, constrained this court, to obviously make an order of acquittal upon the accused…,” Justice Thakur held.
The court also directed the DGP to inform the registry of the high court within six months whether all the investigating officers and chemical examiners in Punjab have been imparted the said training.