The Delhi high court has directed three central agencies to submit details of drug-related cases dealt with in the past five years after allegations that “common witnesses” were used by them to secure convictions.The court, hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a city-based advocate, has asked the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) and the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBITC) to file within four weeks a statement mentioning the cases in which the accused were convicted or acquitted, and the cases that may be pending.“The particulars of the cases and the fact of acquittal or conviction.. be submitted in a detail tabulated form within four weeks from today,” the bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V Kameswar Rao said. Manish Kumar Khanna, the petitioner, has cited “violation of fundamental rights of the accused” booked and put on trial under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act and the Customs Act. The petition directed the court’s attention towards the manner in which statements are prepared in such cases, and over the inclusion of “independent witnesses who later go missing”. The plea, which came up for hearing on November 29, submitted details about how certain witnesses are always produced as “independent witnesses”, get named by the agencies while submitting their statements, and later removed without information on their whereabouts. “Every confession of the accused has in last paragraph averments made in the language of section 24 of Indian Evidence Act or (section) 108 of the Customs Act,” the plea said. The statements are written in “language, detail and accuracy” that even the petitioner (Khanna), “despite being an advocate, cannot write”, the plea said.“The witnesses in many cases do not see the alleged confessions and arrests. It is most important to ask the department to deny this particular point,” the plea added. The bench said that the court was “constrained” to pass its order based on the “submissions made.. with overwhelming documents” and in view of the observations made by the Supreme Court in similar cases.The matter would next come up for hearing on December 15.