“They Say Rats Consume 100s Of Kgs Of Heroin”, SC Concerned At Drugs Disappearing From Police Malkhanas
“100s of kilograms of heroin is seized by police and by the time the case reaches the trial court, there is nothing left. The quantity is reduced to nothing. Chooha kha gaya” (rats have consumed them) Justice Deepak Gupta said.
The Supreme Court has taken a dig at law enforcement agencies, mainly the police for not taking any steps to prevent smuggling out of crores worth of seized narcotics from police malkhanas across the country.
Malkhanas are rooms attached to police stations were case properties are stored.
“Malkhanas have now become the place from where the largest quantity of drugs are smuggled out”, Justice Deepak Gupta said.
Justices Madan B Lokur, Deepak Gupta and Abdul Nazeer literally laughed off the often common response of investigating officers in court that "drugs Chooha Kha Gaya" (rats consumed them)
The police across the country have been asked to destroy seized drugs immediately after preserving samples for trial under Sec 52 A of NDPS Act.
“The existing situation is dangerous.If you ensure 52 A of NDPS Act is complied it won’t happen.. the level of conviction too will go up”, he said.
This is the second time in the last three years that the issue is cropping up in Supreme Court.
In August 2016 the court had said what is burnt by them in the garb of destruction of seized drugs could be nothing but "cow dung".
The court has said illicit drugs worth crores seized every year could be re-entering the market, surreptitiously sold by lower-level staff in the agencies.
Pulling up the states and the Centre for not having any clear-cut policy for storage and disposal of seized drugs like hashish and ganja, the apex court had said because of loopholes in the system people within the Narcotic Control Bureau or the police are re-routing them to make profit.
The earlier directives came after amicus curiae (senior lawyer appointed by court to assist on an issue) Ajit Kumar Sinha informed the court that although the authorities seized drugs worth several hundred crores each year, the disposal and destruction was "only 5 to 10 percent".
The remarks on drugs came when the court asked the Delhi Police to police station premises of case property no longer relevant to investigation.
It asked why impounded or seized vehicles, which continue to lie at the police stations, are not sold in cases where nobody comes forward to claim their ownership even after several years.
SC said most of them were those which were either stolen or used in a crime. Hence, nobody comes forward to claim ownership, it said, asking the police to frame a policy where such materials could be sold or disposed of.
"Is it necessary to keep seized two-wheelers and cars in the police stations," it asked Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Pinky Anand, appearing for the Delhi Police.
The ASG said police has to take permission from the concerned courts before disposing of such vehicles.
She referred to the affidavit filed by police which said that due to high workload in district courts, miscellaneous matters for disposal of applications do not get the requisite attention.
"It is stated (by the police) that a central registry is required to be set up in each of the district complexes in Delhi and for this, assistance of the Delhi High Court is required," the bench noted in its order.
The police also informed the bench that there was only one district 'nazir' (record keeper of a malkhana) in Delhi, and considering the volume of work, several more district nazirs needed to be appointed.