Inordinate delay in imparting justice to Preetam Liladhar Namdeo, 29, a resident of Mandasaur district in Madhya Pradesh, cost him his early adulthood.
After spending more than nine years in jail, the Bombay high court, last week, reduced a 10-year prison term awarded to him for trafficking heroin in 2002, to six months.
Justice UD Salvi set aside his conviction for trafficking commercial quantity of heroin, and instead convicted him for trafficking a smaller quantity.
“The evidence points to the seizure of brown powder from the possession of the appellant-accused [Namdeo], which tested positive for heroin,” justice Salvi observed before adding,
“However, with regards to the quantitative estimation of the heroin in the seized contraband, the evidence fails to offer a clear and cogent view, free of any suspecting questions.”
On May 23, 2002, officials from the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) had laid a trap at CBD Belapur bus depot and arrested Namdeo, who was found with 6.17kg of contraband material, which tested positive for heroin. On March 9, 2007, a designated Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act court convicted Namdeo for breaching several provisions of the NDPS Act.
The trial court sentenced him to 10 years in prison for trafficking commercial quantity of heroin, and imposed a fine of Rs1 lakh on him. Namdeo had filed an appeal before the high court challenging the trial court’s verdict on various grounds.
His counsel, Ayaz Khan contended that DRI officials had not complied with standing instructions on searching for and seizing contraband material. He argued that the qualitative and quantitative estimation of the seized contraband was only partly carried out.
Provisions of the NDPS Act require the prosecuting agency to ascertain the exact quantity and quality (purity) of the seized contraband material, However, in Namdeo’s case, the HC found the quantitative estimation dubious, which resulted in the reduction of his sentence.