Chandigarh, November 10: In a judgment liable to change the way drug suppliers are proceeded against, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has called for action against the “big fish”. 

The Bench made it clear that the “big fish” or the suppliers escaped the net, while only the carriers of the contraband were apprehended, The Tribune reported.

Unless the suppliers were hauled up and necessary information obtained regarding the network, the menace of drug trafficking would not be brought under control, the High Court asserted.

The petitioner was seeking pre-arrest bail in an FIR registered on October 20 for an offence under the provisions of the NDPS Act at the Ratia police station in Fatehabad district. Justice HS Madaan observed the petitioner was said to be a supplier of contraband recovered from the possession of an accused.

Justice Madaan asserted it was noticed most of the times only the carriers were apprehended, whereas “big fish” or the suppliers escaped arrest or managed to avoid custodial interrogation on the plea that their names did not figure in the FIR and no recovery was effected from them.

Since the investigating agency did not get an opportunity for the supplier’s custodial interrogation, further lead regarding the contraband’s procurement by him and its supply thereafter could not be obtained. As a result, the drug cartels did not get smashed.

“Such suppliers came up with straight faces, stating that they have nothing to do with the recovery and their involvement in the crime may not be taken by not considering the statement of the co-accused actually found in possession of the contraband,” Justice Madaan stated.

Though an argument was advanced on the petitioner’s behalf that he was not named in the FIR and no recovery had been effected from him, Justice Madaan maintained the court found little merit in the contention. The FIR was not a substantive piece of evidence and its only purpose was to set the criminal machinery in motion. The investigating agency probed the matter during the investigation after the FIR’s registration and found out whether cognisable offence was disclosed against the accused.

Justice Madaan added the argument that the statement by a co-accused was inadmissible and without merit. Such disclosure statement could certainly be taken into consideration for providing lead in the investigation. Even during the trial, it was admissible under Section 30 of the Indian Evidence Act.

Dismissing the petition, Justice Madaan added the petitioner’s custodial interrogation was definitely necessary to find out the source of poppy straw and to whom it was to be supplied. His customers’ names were also to be found out. Denial of custodial interrogation would leave loose ends and gaps in the probe.

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