Chandigarh, November 1, 2023: As Punjab struggling with drug menace, over 16,000 drug cases are pending trial despite the framing of charges more than two years back, as per the data compiled by the Punjab Bureau of Investigation after obtaining information from field units following directions by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
According to the news published in The Tribune, the compilation of the data has revealed that there are 16,149 criminal cases under the NDPS Act, 1985, in which charges were framed by the courts before October 17, 2021. But the cases are still under trial.
Amritsar (Rural) tops the list with 1,596 matters, followed by Jalandhar (Rural) 1,254 and Moga 1,082 cases. The information was compiled just about a month after Justice Manjari Nehru Kaul took cognizance of non-appearance of official witnesses in matters under the provisions of the NDPS Act before directing the Secretary, Department of Home Affairs, DGP, and Muktsar SSP, to appear before the Bench.
Justice Kaul, on the previous date of hearing, had called for data regarding “cases pending under the NDPS Act in various courts of Punjab, wherein even after framing of charges, the prosecutionui evidence has not concluded for the last two years or more”.
Rapped by the high court in the matter, DGP had also issued standing order laying out detailed procedure for timely appearance of official witnesses before the trial court to record their deposition/evidence at first available opportunity.
Among other things, a cap has been placed on the number of adjournments; the area DSP has been made responsible for ensuring the presence of witnesses and an accountability mechanism has been introduced. The state is represented by Advocate-General Gurminder Singh in the matter.
The order says no police officer will seek more than one adjournment from the trial court for appearing as a witness. Any individual who fails to appear as a witness on two occasions will face an inquiry, which may lead to actions such as suspension and/or registration of an FIR. If an FIR is registered, the investigation will be conducted by a separate wing of the Punjab Police.
The matter came up for hearing before the Bench on October 31, but was adjourned for November 16.