Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Combating Drugs and Crime


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By D Pakyntein

Every drug user is eager to quit, but finds it difficult to do so. Once I attended a training programme, conducted by the National Academy of Customs, Indirect Taxes and Narcotics (NACIN) Mumbai. All trainees were expecting that senior IPS/IRS/Customs officers would be the trainers and lecturers. Instead, our trainers were psychiatrists, doctors, specialists, experts, and scientists. Here we learnt that any person who has consumed 100% pure heroin on more than three occasions is an addict and it will be very difficult for the person to quit without proper medical treatment.
Heroin in the market is not always pure when tested. To boost profits, dealers or smugglers usually mix it with other substances like soda, glucose, paracetamol, caffeine, rat poison or any white powder which is more dangerous than heroin itself. Heroin consumers usually spend approximately between Rs.500-2000 a day, depending upon the number of months and years they have consumed. It will cost the same amount or per person per day to be de-addicted. I believe that no parents can afford to spare this amount of money every day. Hence this pushes drug users to become drug smugglers.
At this critical juncture in our history when drug use is on the upswing in our state how do parents detect whether or not their children are drug users. I would like to share some tips with parents. When we notice that expensive items are missing from the house it’s time to observe the behaviour of children. A day without drugs for a regular user will make the person sweat or have chills; have diarrhoea; stomach cramps and muscle ache. They also exhibit strange/unusual behaviours. When medicines are missing, there is a possibility that the children are into drugs. It’s important to throw away expired or unused medicines. Those who are eager to quit should seek help. There is no need to feel ashamed or afraid.
Those addicted to drug use and smuggling should not wait till they are arrested and jailed for many years or after spending lakhs of rupees to defend themselves. Under section 64A of the NDPS 1985, people addicted to small quantities of narcotic drugs can volunteer for treatment. This is a golden opportunity that should not be missed. Potter Net TV shows how addicts can change their lives.
It is not easy for any court of law to sentence/convict any accused person, and not easy for any investigating agency to blindly arrest anyone. There are many reasons why an accused person gets bail and gets away. Few lapses must be corrected. The first page in a case file is always the panchnama, where a special NDPS judge will peruse through. Therefore, it must be perfectly recorded on the spot. A slight error of recording the date, time, place will be noticed. It must be understood that a voluntary statement is more powerful than a questioner’s statement in any court of law. When an accused is produced, in court he/she will be sent to 14 days judicial custody. In many cases, it is noticed that judges must wait for an IO/lawyer to come after the 14-day judicial custody or they never attend the court at all. Hence the accused is being sent to custody repeatedly.
Delayed receipt of Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) reports is another drawback. One public witness says something; another says something else results in delay in filing a chargesheet. The date and time of arrest warrant must be accurate else the case falls flat. Also in many cases important sections were not properly followed, like section 100 CrPC 1973, section 67 of NDPS Act 1985 section 25 of the Indian Evidence Act 1872. The team of officers conducting the search should search the person in-charge of the premises or these lapses will create doubts/confusion in a courtroom.
As per section 42 of the NDPS Act, 1985, only authorized officers (not all) with specific ranks are empowered to search or arrest. Yes, we all want to combat drugs and crime, but there is a limit to doing something good in society. When an NGO gets accurate information that a person has drugs in his person or premises or vehicle they should inform the authorized investigating agencies and not try and accost the drug peddler themselves. If a drug peddler is intercepted, the best they can do is to detain a person in camera and inform the authorized agencies. Such NGO or individuals will be rewarded handsomely depending on the purity of the drugs. Of course, they will also be rewarded for intercepting those peddling Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) also and the identity of the informer is kept secret. Unless the seizure is made by authorised persons a court of law will not accept the statement of any person/NGO who does the search and seizure of a vehicle carrying drugs or who searches a home of a suspected drug peddler because the drugs were not lawfully recovered from the person, premises, or vehicle.
We live in an imperfect world and a small error detected by top-notch defence lawyers will blow the case apart and the drug kingpin will walk away unpunished. In this endeavour to tackle drug abuse and smuggling I wish the Police/ Investigation Agencies/NGOs all the best.


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