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SC acquits man in hashish possession case

Updated August 29, 2017

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday acquitted the main accused in a narcotics case and ordered a rickshaw in which the accused's drugs were allegedly found in to be returned to its owner.

According to the case file, police had reported that approximately three kilogrammes of hashish — cannabis resin — were found under the seat of a rickshaw being driven by the accused in Attock.

A three-judge bench on Tuesday appeared reluctant to uphold the four-and-a-half year sentence handed to the man by lower courts for the crime, saying it felt that police unfairly target the poor in cases of narcotics possession.

Justice Dost Mohammad, who was heading the bench, also pointed out flaws in narcotics laws in the country. He observed that the law has not been able to differentiate between the sale and purchase of drugs "in 100 years" as both crimes carry the same penalty when that should not be the case.

Justice Mohammad also made some interesting comments about the cost, availability and usage of the drug.

For instance, "People consume a glass of bhang before dhamaal at shrines," he observed at one point, calling it the drug of choice for malangs.

"A kilo of charas is available in Kabul for a few hundred rupees, while the same quantity is available for a billion rupees in Europe," he observed.

The net and gross weight of the drug also came under discussion during the hearing, with the court insisting that the drug needs to be weighed at its net value "since its packaging is substantially heavy". However, the court observed, the police usually weighs the drug at its gross weight.

The court said that the accused should hence be given the benefit of doubt with regards to the quantity of hashish in his possession.

The judges proceeded to acquit the accused, stating that he had served the punishment prescribed for possession of a lesser quantity of the drug, as prescribed in the Control of Narcotics Substance Act 1997, and that would be sufficient.

Nearly 3.6 per cent of Pakistan's population uses cannabis, according to a United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime report in 2013, making it the most commonly-used drug in the country.