The Punjab government’s efforts to curb drug menace notwithstanding, the constantly rising narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances (NDPS) cases and resultant 12,782 NDPS samples pending examination before its two forensic science laboratories pose an alarming situation.
At the beginning of October, 7,600 samples were pending examination before forensic science laboratory at Mohali and 5,182 before chemical laboratory at Kharar in SAS Nagar district. A rise of 122% has been recorded in the pendency of samples since June 1 before these laboratories.
Government records reveal that these laboratories have been taking over six months’ time to examine an NDPS sample. Laboratory reports play a crucial role in deciding the NDPS cases pending before several courts and deciding the fate of the accused languishing in jails.
The records of state department of home affairs and justice reveal that both the laboratories examined a total of 1,177 NDPS samples in September alone. But since April this year, there had been a spurt in institution of NDPS cases after a thrust of the Punjab government in anti-drug drive and till September over 10,000 people were arrested.
Jammu transporter Kamaljit Singh whose brother Harvinder Singh, 30, is in Kapurthala jail since January this year in an NDPS case, says that in this case the chemical laboratory report had not arrived till date. “My brother’s case is pending before a Tarn Taran court since January in which Punjab police wrongly framed my brother with allegations of 600 gram heroin recovery,” he alleged.
Though police are required to send drug samples to the laboratory within 72 hours, in Harvinder’s case, samples were sent after four months to Mohali laboratory and he is languishing in jail as Tarn Taran court has dismissed his bail petition, lamented Kamaljit.
Punjab and Haryana high court advocate Vipul Jindal, dealing in NDPS litigations, says there are a considerable number of NDPS cases which are false in which the victims/accused are in the lurch since the forensic reports do not come even after seven to eight months. “Most of the courts do not grant bail to the accused till the laboratory report comes and before the police file challan in the case,” he expressed.
Four more labs proposed
To overcome the pressure, the state government has identified buildings for setting up of four laboratories in Bathinda (Red Cross Building), Patiala (Fisheries department premises), Jalandhar (vacant building of ESI) and Amritsar (TB hospital).
Two laboratories at Patiala and Bathinda are proposed to be established by the end of this year.
The finance department has also given its approval for creation of 33 posts of Group A, B, C and D for the establishment of three chemical laboratories at Bathinda, Patiala and Jalandhar. The estimated budget provision of Rs 1 crore would be required for the establishment of each laboratory and now the matter is pending before the finance department.
The state government is also considering opening of an additional NDPS division in the existing FSL at Mohali and the finance department has approved sanction of 15 posts for this division.
The state government also proposes fabrication of eight mobile forensic units for which Rs 32 lakh has already been earmarked in the budget and tendering process is under progress.