For extending help to accused in liquor-related cases
The Kerala High Court on Thursday cautioned excise officials against what it calls the unhealthy trend among the officers to help the accused in Abkari cases escape by deliberately facilitating them opportunities for getting acquittal from the courts.
Justice S. Siri Jagan warned the State that if the trend continued, the court would be forced to direct the government to initiate disciplinary proceedings against the officers responsible for the lapses in conducting seizure and prosecution in accordance with the established law. The court made the observation while acquitting P. Lakshmi of Kasaragod who was convicted in a 1997 illegal spirit smuggling case.
The court said it was solely due to the negligence and deliberate inaction on the part of the excise officials that the prosecution of abkari offences came a cropper. It was found in many cases that there had been considerable delay caused by the excise officers in producing the contraband and samples before the magistrate court concerned, the court observed. As a result, the accused who were sure to be convicted escaped without getting any punishment. The court said it tended to believe that probably this was deliberate with the intention to providing a chance for the accused to get them off the hook.
The court observed that in the instant case, there was a delay of 14 days in producing the seized contraband before the magistrate court. Lakshmi was rounded up while transporting spirit by an Excise Enforcement and Anti-Narcotic Special Squad. She was sentenced to one month rigorous imprisonment and Rs.25,000 fine.