India is facing a drugs incursion from a new kind of conduit—terminally ill patients, mostly women, from foreign countries. Ironically, most of them go scot free thanks to the sympathetic view of the courts.
This trend was exposed by Jutice Pradeep Nandrajog of the Delhi High Court after he visited a jail on February 14, 2009, and found 16 terminally ill patients in the jail hospitals. The doctors said the patients might not survive for more than two to six months. After this Justice Nandrajog had directed the Centre, Delhi government and legal apparatus of all states to take immediate steps to check such carriers.
Such patients make use of India’s liberal policy of not insisting on a medical certificate that a person seeking entry to India is free of any ailment. In dire need of money, they are susceptible to profitable offers from the drug mafia.
The Narcotics Control Bureau says the conduits, when caught, escape punishment as the courts send back the terminally ill on humanitarian grounds.
NCB has repeatedly urged the court to not grant bail to such accused. "It has come to our notice that drug traffickers use the services of terminally ill patients to act as transporters to smuggle narcotics. Any kind of leniency will only set a bad precedent and encourage both international drug syndicates to recruit such persons, and the persons suffering from fatal diseases to take up such lucrative assignments," it says.
On October 27, the home ministry suggested dropping proceedings such conduits, fast tracking their trial and exempting them from appearance in court in order to reduce their stay in India. The court has accepted these guidelines.
MEA silent on visas
The court had also asked the Ministry of External Affairs if there was a policy for medical screening of foreigners before granting them visas. The court said many countries insist that a person seeking an entry visa be free of any ailment. The court also wanted MEA to frame guidelines for visas to foreign nationals from where drugs were being pushed into India.