A Sessions court here has suggested that the malkhana , where case property including contraband are stored, be entrusted to any other agency besides the police, in view of long delays in dispatching samples for forensic tests, allegations of tampering of case property and inadequate storage facilities leading to decomposition of materials.

Additional Sessions Judge Narinder Kumar made the observations while sentencing Delhi residents, Sucha Singh and Manjeet, who were arrested at Kishenganj railway station while in possession of 15 kg and 16 kg of contraband 'ganja' respectively, to three years in jail and with a fine of Rs.15,000 each.

“…Case property is initially deposited in the malkhanas of the respective police stations and after sometime samples of contraband are dispatched to forensic science laboratories for analysis. Generally, it has been found that samples are not sent to forensic science laboratories at the earliest, for one reason or the other. But on account of delay, in dispatch of samples to laboratories, prosecution case is challenged by the defence side while arguing that this delay was utilised in tampering with the case property,” ASJ Mr. Kumar said.

The judge noted that from his day-to-day experience as a judge with jurisdiction over Narcotic and Psychotropic Substances Act cases, any department other than the police needed to be entrusted with case property soon after its recovery or seizure.

The court also said this department must have all facilities of proper storage, as faulty storage (deterioration due to effect of light, variation in temperature and humidity) adversely affected the percentage of active content in the substance, during their storage in the malkhana of the police station. “But it is for the legislature, government and authorities concerned to take steps in this regard,” Mr. Kumar said, while concluding his judgment.

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