More than 50 per cent of alleged drug peddlers arrested for possessing commercial quantities of heroin in Punjab in last five years were released on bail thanks to “shoddy investigation” conducted by the investigating police officers of such cases, anti-drug STF sources told The Indian Express Wednesday. Punjab’s anti-drug STF found this pattern in an analysis of over 900 such cases, in which the accused who were arrested with commercial quantity of heroin were granted bail by the court.
Sources said that over a span of last one year, STF analysed nearly 900 cases and found that in many cases, the investigating officers did not even submit the chargesheet in the court within the stipulated 180 days. Thus, the accused got benefit of the delayed chargesheets and were released on bail. Besides this, delay in seized drugs’ potency reports from chemical examiners and other technicalities also weakened the cases against the accused. Cases involving recovery of 250 gm of heroin or more are categorised into commercial quantity heroin cases. NDPS Act bars grant of bail to the accused wherein drug seizures are classified under “commercial quantity”.
Sources told that STF has also shared its analysis in a recent meeting chaired by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and pressed upon the need to go into depth of each such case to fix accountability of the “erring officers”. Last year, when the STF began this analysis, it stumbled upon a case of a Punjab police inspector Inderjit Singh who was nabbed by STF for providing protection to the drug-smugglers. STF investigations also found that Inderjit deliberately left technical loopholes in the cases, resulting even in acquittal of smugglers in certain cases. Inderjit was subsequently dismissed from service.
Sources said STF has proposed that there should be continuous monitoring of cases involving commercial quantities of drugs. STF has also recommended that those cases in which “big fish” were acquitted from drug charges should also be re-investigated. “The STF analysis pertains only to heroin cases. There is likely to be similar story in the commercial quantity cases of other banned drugs like opium etc,” a senior police officer said. “When such peddlers who operate with commercial quantities get bailed out, it is bound to give a big setback to any efforts to fight the menace of drugs,” said an STF officer.