A Peshawar High Court bench has recently taken notice of alarming increase in registration of FIRs (First Information Reports) of narcotics trafficking in some districts of the province, suspecting implication of innocent people in concocted cases by some police officials for showing their efficiency.

A senior judge of the high court Justice Roohul Amin Khan has directed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Inspector General of Police to look into the matter and dig out the truth.

The IGP was directed to intimate the court through the additional registrar (judicial) about the steps and action taken in this regard.

The directives were issued by Justice Roohul Amin while hearing a bail petition of an accused, Mohammad Ayaz, who was arrested on the charges of possessing 151grams of methamphetamine (ice drug or crystal meth). An FIR was registered against him at the police station Lahor in Swabi district under section 11 (b) of the KP Control of Narcotics Substance Act (KPCNSA), 2019, on Sept 15, 2021.

The prosecution claimed the accused was proceeding on foot towards a spot where police were conducting search by setting a checkpoint on a thoroughfare.

The bench observed whether a person having narcotics in his possession despite noticing police from sufficient distance and having an opportunity to decamp from the spot would still opt to proceed towards the police and offer his arrest, as was shown in the instant case, pinches a prudent mind about the prosecution story’s credibility and authenticity of which was yet to be proved during trial.

The court allowed the petition and granted bail to the accused on Oct 22 on condition of furnishing two sureties of Rs200,000 each.

Advocate Jan Afsar had appeared for the petitioner and pointed out that the local police in Swabi had been mostly registering fake cases and nine of the FIRs of identical nature were registered in the same police station that day.

On his claim, the bench summoned the Daily Diary of the said police station of Sept 15 along with the district police officer (DPO) and SP (investigation), Swabi.

The Swabi DPO turned up before the bench on Oct 18 and submitted a detailed statement of narcotics cases registered in the police stations of Swabi district from Jan 1 to Oct 11, 2021. The statement transpired that a total of 610 cases of narcotics had been registered during the said period against 654 accused persons of which 510 were released on bail whereas around 140 were still behind bars.

The bench observed that registration of 610 narcotics cases in a short period of 10 months wherein 510 accused had been released on bail spoke volumes about inefficiency of the police officers of the police stations in Swabi.

The bench observed there was a general perception about police in a few districts, including Swabi, that they falsely implicated innocent people in fake narcotics cases on the basis of known “progress FIR” merely to show efficiency.

“No doubt, there are elements everywhere in the province dealing in detestable business of narcotics, and the FIR is the only clue to the police on the basis of which they start investigation, as such, its importance cannot be denied. However, its misuse by the police officials has to be discouraged by the high-ups sitting on helm of affairs as police officer in the district,” the bench ruled.

“Registration of a large number of fake FIRs will not only shatter the public trust on police officials, but shall also exhibit their inefficiency to control the crimes in the jurisdiction of their respective police stations,” the bench observed.

In its detailed judgment, the bench stated that when the DPO was confronted with the alarming situation of narcotics cases in the district, he stated that though the use of narcotics was at high level in the district as compared to other districts, but admittedly some exaggeration in registration of the cases was visible. He assured to curb the menace in the district and also to look into the matter of registration of fake FIRs.

The bench ordered to send a copy of the judgment to the IGP for looking into the matter.

Legal experts dealing with narcotics cases believe there had been considerable increase in registration of cases of narcotics trafficking since the enactment of the KPCNSA in 2019 and especially after starting of special campaign by Police’s Narcotics Eradication Team (NET) during last few months.

They said in some of the bail matters related to Peshawar the petitioners claimed innocence and had named a police officer of being involved in registering fake cases.

The KPCNSA was passed by the provincial assembly on Aug 27, 2019, and it received assent of the governor on Sept 2, 2019.

While passing the law, the government claimed it had incorporated specific provisions for checking the growing use of ice drug or crystal meth in the province.

Through the KPCNSA, the federal law, Control of Narcotics Substance Act, 1997, was repealed within Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the extent of cultivation, possession, sale, purchase, delivery and transportation of narcotics.

The provincial law provides for harsher punishment for offences related to methamphetamine (ice drug) compared to other psychotropic drugs. While section 10 and 11 of KPCNSA deals with offences related to ice drug, there are various provisions for other drugs.

The law now provides sentence of death or life imprisonment for offence related to methamphetamine weighing five kg or more, whereas the same sentence is provided for other narcotics weighing 10kg or more.

Similarly, methamphetamine quantity of less than 100 grams carries sentence of up to seven years imprisonment with minimum fine of Rs300,000, whereas other narcotics of less than 100 grams carry sentence of up to three years imprisonment with a fine of Rs50,000 to Rs100,000.

Published in Dawn, November 1st, 2021

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