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Sleuths fudge figures to nail drug peddlers

Are the city police misusing the provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act' Are they in the habit of “planting” heroin on the criminals they want to keep in custody for a longer period'

According to lawyers dealing with cases involving persons arrested under the NDPS Act, the police are misusing the provisions of the Act. They point out that police show in case records those they do not want to be released on bail in possession of heroin weighing more than 5g. Carrying 5g or less of heroin is an offence immediately bailable.

“The amount of seized drugs started playing a key role after an amendment to the Act in 2001. Provisions that were earlier non-bailable now provide for bail if the accused possesses a small quantity of narcotics. And the punishment has been reduced to six months from 10 years. According to the amendment, a small quantity is 5g or less for heroin and 1 kg or less for ganja,” explained Nimai Ray, advocate of the special court under the NDPS Act at Barasat, on Sunday.

The police protest loudly. “It is unimaginable,” says Banibrata Basu, former deputy inspector-general (special), CID, who till a fortnight ago oversaw narcotics. “No policeman will ever do such a thing, because it is not only unethical, but also dangerous.” Basu, however, chose to be silent about the fact that only last month, N.C. Patra, an influential former assistant director of the Narcotics Control Bureau, was suspended for alleged involvement in a string of extortion cases.

After arresting a criminal, the officials, to substantiate the cause of arrest, record that a good amount of heroin was seized from him. Initially, the case becomes quite strong and the criminal is put behind bars.

But, subsequently, when the substance is sent for a chemical test, it has been found that in most cases, the quantity of ‘real’ heroin falls far short of 5g.

Now, police show the quantity of seized heroin as above 5g to book an accused under the non-bailable provision. “But in most cases, chemical test reports say the substance recovered from the accused contains a little quantity of narcotics,” said Ray.

High court advocate Rupna Bhattacharjee cited the arrest of Panna Sarkar in Khardah last year. Sleuths said 59g of heroin had been seized. The accused was convicted to 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 1 lakh. “But the chemical test report confirmed that the actual quantity of heroin was only 4.13g.” Sarkar filed for bail “but the division bench rejected the plea, as wrongly or rightly, the quantity has been mentioned as commercial quantity by the lower court,” Bhattacharjee added.

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