Need to expedite trial of NDPS cases, says SC

The Supreme Court on Friday expressed concern over the inordinate delay in the completion of trials of cases under the Narcotic Drugs and Substances (NDPS) Act and asked the officials to suggest ways to finish the trials within a reasonable timeframe.

A bench of Justices D K Jain and J S Khehar said: “We request the Director General, Narcotics Control Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs and the senior-most officer-in-charge of the investigations and prosecution for offences under the said Act, to appear in person and apprise the court about the reasons for delay in such trials. They may also bring with them their suggestions on the issue,” the court said.

The court’s order came in the wake of the affidavits filed by different high courts on delayed trials in NDPS Act cases as well as suggestions made out in a note submitted by the amicus curiae.

The note pointed out that the number of special courts to deal with NDPS cases was inadequate and the lackadaisical attitude of the officials of the court and police was also responsible for the protracted trials.

It suggested ways like setting up of special courts, appointment of sufficient number of prosecutors, establishing more forensic laboratories, fixing time-frame for deciding cases and a more professional and coordinated approach in adjudication to expedite the trials.
The court, after taking consideration of the note and the affidavits, said: “It would be expedient to ascertain the views of the authorities involved in the investigation and prosecution of such cases.”

The bench came across with the issue of delay in trial in NDPS cases after an accused from Madhya Pradesh approached the court for bail contending that he has been languishing in jail for over 12 years as an under-trial even though the maximum punishment for his alleged offence was only 10 years.

The court expressed its shock over the scenario and sought responses from all the states and the HCs on the issue while granting bail to the man.

Besides seeking presence of the DG, NCB, the bench also asked the District and Sessions Judge of Saket district courts to appear in person and apprise it of the steps taken for expediting trials in NDPS cases in the national capital where the number of pending cases has gone up 1,300.

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