FOR almost a decade,1,700 kg of cannabis has been lying in the Azad Maidan unit of the Anti-Narcotics Cell (ANC). The heady stench,meanwhile,continues to be a source of irritant to the cops of the unit. The cannabis forms the biggest seized consignment by ANC. The cell also contains smaller quantities of contraband,seized in the last three years,all of which are evidence in the trial,which are at different stages.
The cannabis consignment was seized by the ANC nine years ago after a driver was arrested under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act for allegedly smuggling them into the city. The 42 gunny sacks of cannabis,each weighing around 40 kg were stored in the ANC unit.
In 2012,an NDPS court convicted the accused,who appealed to the Bombay High Court. The room is also used to store drugs seized in other raids. The drugs also have to be taken from the room on several occasions to be produced in court as evidence. Every time we open the door,there is an overpowering smell of cannabis, an officer with the ANCs Azad Maidan unit said.
With the cannabis consignment taking up most of the space in the room,ANC officers were forced to store the other seized goods in an adjacent room. The entire unit consists of two large rooms,a larger hall and an officers cabin,all containing cannabis.
Every time there was a hearing,the unit personnel would load the entire consignment in a police van and take it to court every time there was a hearing. The court would then send a lawyer to examine the samples. This procedure went on from around 2005 to 2012,officials said.
Meanwhile,ANC has prepared a report to be submitted to the Mumbai Police Commissionerate of all the seizures made by the cell in which trials have been completed so that consignments can be destroyed. The procedure involves getting approval from a 5-member panel including a secretary rank bureaucrat from the states home department and three senior police officials of the rank of deputy commissioner or above.
We have written to our superiors,asking for permission to destroy these drugs. Just when we thought we could get rid of the consignment,the accused approached HC. The consignment will now have to be preserved till the appeal goes on, an ANC officer said.
Inspector Sunil Kavlekar from Azad Maidan unit of ANC said,Sometimes High Court does not insist on producing all the evidence when the lower court has certified it as genuine. If that happens we can apply for permission to destroy the big consignment. We are waiting for the HCs decision.