Supreme Court, issues guidelines on storage of seized Narcotics: orders destruction to prevent recirculation [Read Judgment]
Supreme Court has issued guidelines on the disposal of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic and controlled Substances and Conveyance. Apex Court bench comprising of the Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice Kurian Joseph made this observation in Union of India vs Mohanlal in order to ‘avoid any confusion arising out of the continued presence of two notifications on the same subject’
The Court said that the disposal shall be carried out in the following manner till such time the Government prescribes a different procedure for the same:
Cases where the trial is concluded and proceedings in appeal/revision have all concluded finally.
In cases that stood finally concluded at the trial, appeal, revision and further appeals, if any, before 29th May, 1989 the continued storage of drugs and Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic and controlled Substances and Conveyances is of no consequence not only because of the considerable lapse of time since the conclusion of the proceedings but also because the process of certification and disposal after verification and testing may be an idle formality
Drugs Disposal Committees of the States and the Central agencies shall take stock of all such seized contrabands and take steps for their disposal without any further verification, testing or sampling whatsoever.
The concerned heads of the Department shall personally supervise the process of destruction of drugs so identified for disposal. To the extent the seized Drugs and Narcotic Substances continue to choke the storage facilities and tempt the unscrupulous to indulge in pilferage and theft for sale or circulation in the market, the disposal of the stocks will reduce the hazards that go with their continued storage and availability in the market.
Drugs that are seized after May, 1989 and where the trial and appeal and revision have also been finally disposed of:
The DDCs shall accordingly take stock of all such Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic and controlled Substances and Conveyances in relation to which the trial of the accused persons has finally concluded and the proceedings have attained finality at all levels in the judicial hierarchy.
The DDCs shall then take steps to have such stock also destroyed under the direct supervision of the head of the Department concerned.
Cases in which the proceedings are still pending before the Courts at the level of trial court, appellate court or before the Supreme Court:
In such cases the heads of the Department concerned shall ensure that appropriate applications are moved by the officers competent to do so under Notification dated 16th January, 2015 before the Drugs Disposal Committees concerned and steps for disposal of such Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic and controlled Substances and Conveyances taken without any further loss of time.
The Court also issued the following guidelines regarding seizure and storage of Seized drugs.
No sooner the seizure of any Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic and controlled Substances and Conveyances is effected, the same shall be forwarded to the officer in-charge of the nearest police station or to the officer empowered under Section 53 of the Act.
The officer concerned shall then approach the Magistrate with an application under Section 52A(ii) of the Act, which shall be allowed by the Magistrate as soon as may be required under Sub-Section 3 of Section 52A. The sampling shall be done under the supervision of the magistrate.
The Central Government and its agencies and so also the State Governments shall within six months from today take appropriate steps to set up storage facilities for the exclusive storage of seized Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic and controlled Substances and Conveyances duly equipped with vaults and double locking system to prevent theft, pilferage or replacement of the seized drugs.
The Central Government and the State Governments shall also designate an officer each for their respective storage facility and provide for other steps, measures as stipulated in Standing Order No. 1/89 to ensure proper security against theft, pilferage or replacement of the seized drugs.
The Central Government and the State Governments shall be free to set up a storage facility for each district in the States and depending upon the extent of seizure and store required, one storage facility for more than one districts
Disposal of the seized drugs currently lying in the police maalkhans and other places used for storage shall be carried out by the DDCs concerned in terms of the directions issued by us in the body of this judgment under the heading ’disposal of drugs’.
The Court also requested the Chief Justices of the High Courts concerned to appoint a Committee of Judges on the administrative side to supervise and monitor progress made by the respective States in regard to the compliance with the above directions and wherever necessary, to issue appropriate directions for a speedy action on the administrative and even on the judicial side in public interest wherever considered necessary.
Read the Judgment here.