A special Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) court on Thursday acquitted 40-year-old Pratima Prasad accused of carrying 40kg of ganja (marijuana), on the same day that the trial began.
The lack of evidence and loopholes in investigation owing to the city police’s failure to carry out a mandatory search when she was first arrested led to her acquittal.
Prasad, 35, was caught carrying 22kg of ganja from Sion Koliwada on March 30, 2010 by the Bandra unit of the anti-narcotics cell (ANC). It was alleged that 18kg of ganja was also recovered from her residence in Sion.
Although Prasad was released on bail two months after her arrest, the case came up for trial on Thursday before justice IM Bohari, when the first witness and complainant, Rohidas Vanzari, an officer of the department, was called before the special court.
Vanzari told the court that the ANC had received a tip-off about a person named Anna who would supply ganja to a lady who would then distribute it to other dealers.
“We found Prasad carrying a bag. On being searched by a woman constable, 22kg of ganja was found in her bag. Further we also found 18kg of ganja from her house,” said Vanzari.
However Prasad’s advocate, Shekhar Bhandari, who cross-examined Vanzari, argued that the provision of carrying out a mandatory search had not been complied with.
Bhandari said that as per the NDPS Act, the accused should not have been examined by police personnel below the rank of a head constable.
He added that Prasad however was searched by a woman cop below the level of head constable. Further, Bhandari also contended that there was no evidence to prove that the house where 18kg of ganja was recovered from was Prasad’s and that she resided there. After hearing the deposition of the complainant and submission of the defence advocate, the court decided to acquit Prasad the same day.