The Orissa High Court observed that the NDPS cases should always be dealt with stricter approach of 'No Tolerance'.
Justice S. K. Panigrahi observed thus while granting bail to an accused on the ground of parity. The judge said that he is painstakingly deviating from the "No-tolerance approach" because of the fact that the co-accused who was placed quite worse than the petitioner has been enlarged on bail.
The Judge observed that despite strict provisions, the recorded crime rate under the NDPS Act has increased in the country more during the last ten years.
The order disposing the bail application starts with the following quote of Dr. Oche Otorkpa: "Drug addiction is like a curse and until it is broken, its victim will perpetually remain in the shackles of bondage". The court observed:
The furtive smuggling and trafficking of drugs linked it to a host of social ills, including involvement in crime, destabilization and decline in family relationship, kinship, neighbourhoods etc. More importantly, it has resulted in rampant substance abuse by the youth. The Parliament has passed the NDPS Act with an objective to arrest the menace by making the deterrent effect more stringent so that the guilty is appropriately punished. The said Act seeks to 2 control both the demand and supply of drugs by criminalizing production, trafficking and use. It prohibits the manufacture, production, possession, consumption, sale, purchase, trade, use, import and export of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, except for medical or scientific purposes. The Judiciary also saddled with the responsibility of strictly adhering to the law so that the traffickers of drugs do not go unpunished and the growth boom of trafficking is checked. The trafficking and smuggling have flared sporadically in the recent years transcending the geographical boundaries. The case in hand typifies this alarming trend.
The Court added that the cost of drug abuse is enormous and multifaceted which poses severe threat to the social fabric of the country and that instances of drug abuse is required to be dealt with a strict 'hard on Crime' attitude. The judge added:
Drug addiction is a complex illness with far-reaching consequences for those who know, work with, and support the drug-addicted individual. Families suffer due to cultural and social factors of drug behavior, including their own understanding of the disease process and the addict's behavior due to drug abuse; draining of family resources, shrinking from responsibilities, sickness, and dysfunctional relationships, distortion of interpersonal family relationships, violence and death faced as a consequence of drug abuse. The cost of drug abuse is enormous and multifaceted which poses severe threat to the social fabric of the country. Ergo, instances of drug abuse is required to be dealt with a strict 'hard on Crime' attitude.
The court also observed that lack of uniform sampling procedures adds to the overall inconsistency in sentencing for drug cases, more especially in pharmaceutical drugs like of cough syrup containing Codeine Phosphate. The judge, while disposing the bail application said:
While strict liability provisions of the NDPS Act are considered deterrent, application of these provisions has not resulted in high punishment. Despite strict provisions, the recorded crime rate under the NDPS Act has increased in the country more during the last ten years. It is also equally disturbing to note that there is a disparate sentence in such kind of cases which is quite contrary to the notion of graded punishment prescribed under the law, as similar drug quantities witness varying degree of sentences. This kind of ambiguity in the application of the law with regards to most drug abuse cases in the country still persists. As a negatively-defined category, intermediate quantity cases receive disparate sentences, due to the wide range of punishments available to a judge together with a lack of sentencing guidelines. This sort of inconsistencies problematises and affects the conviction rate in such crimes.
Case name: Bikash Duria vs. State of OrissaCase no.: BLAPL No.2464 of 2020 Coram: Justice SK Panigrahi
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