Pune: Special NDPS court acquits man in 3 kgs Charas seizure; cites non-compliance of mandatory provisions, raises doubts of raid timings in complaint

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Pune, 13th April 2024: A 39-year-old rickshaw driver Sahil Hussain Shaikh (39 yrs.) r/o Bhawani Peth was acquitted by a Special NDPS court in Pune on Saturday for alleged possession of 3 kgs Charas two years ago.

According to Assistant public prosecutor S.S. More, on 3rd February 2021, while on patrolling duty, sleuths of the anti-narcotics cell of the Pune crime branch led by Sr. PI Prakash Khandekar received information regarding the illicit sale of Banta commonly known as Bhang at Hasham Pan Shop, Raviwar Peth. Accordingly a raid was conducted and 3 kgs Banta tablets packed in plastic packets inscribed with ‘Om Shivshankar, Nit Pharma, Ayurvedik Aaushadhi, Anandvan Churna’ were seized from the said pan shop.

An offence u/s 65(e) of Maharashtra Prohibition Act was registered at Faraskhana PS against the accused Sahil Hussain Shaikh r/o Bhawani Peth who was subsequently released on bail. But when the sample from the seized muddemal was sent for Chemical Analysis, it was later found to be Charas.

Following which on 28th June 2021, the IO API Manoj Abhang intimated the concerned JMFC Court for deletion of previous offence u/s 65(e) of Maharashtra Prohibition Act and addition of a new offence u/s 8(c) r/w 20(b) of NDPS Act.

The accused was re-arrested on 12th January 2023 and a chargesheet was filed before the Sessions court, Pune. In order to prove the alleged offence against the accused, the APP relied on the informant, raiding squad member, panch and investigating officers as prosecution witnesses.

Defence advocate Hafizuddin S. Kazi, argued that the cops initially registered the offence u/s 65(e) of Maharashtra Prohibition Act and later charged the accused u/s 8(c) r/w 20(b) of NDPS Act. But they did not obtain a search warrant from the concerned authority nor carried the search and seizure in presence of a Gazetted Officer or an Executive Magistrate as per the provisions of Section 50 of NDPS Act, which thus makes the search & seizure illegal and unreliable. Prosecution also failed to establish the nexus of accused with Hasham Pan Stall. Neither did the cops apprehend or recorded the statement of any customer to whom the accused was allegedly selling the illicit substance. Even the Panch has not supported the prosecution case in respect of the said seizure. Thus the evidence of members of raiding squad, for want of compliances of provisions under NDPS Act, cannot be relied upon.

Additional Sessions Judge D. P. Ragit mentioned that it was unbelievable that the narcotics squad left for patrolling duty at about 20:00 hrs from the crime branch, they received information about the sale of illicit substance at about 19:45 hrs, they called panchas at 19.50 hours and carried the raid at about 20.15 hours. The judge acquitted the accused and directed him to execute a Personal Bond of Rs 25,000 and a Surety Bond of Rs. 25,000 u/s 437-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure.