Drugs case: HC finds procedural lapse by police

Pointing to sheer procedural lapses by the police, the High Court of Karnataka has quashed the criminal proceedings initiated against Virendra Khanna, a party organiser who is an accused in the 2020 case of drug racket allegedly involving film actors and other celebrities, and another case of seizure of narcotic drugs from two foreign nationals in 2018.

However, the court granted permission to the persecuting agency to set right all the procedural mistakes and take action against the petitioner in accordance with the law while clarifying that quashing of proceedings will not come in the way of prosecuting him afresh.

“It is to be noted here that what is made out by the counsel for the petitioner is a sheer procedural lapse. This can be set right. If really the petitioner’s involvement is there in commission of offences punishable under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) Act, he must be tried in accordance with the law and punished in case the prosecution is able to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt. The lapses in procedural aspect should not come in the way of prosecuting the petitioner,” the court observed.

Justice Sreenivas Harish Kumar passed the order while allowing the petition filed by Mr. Khanna. He was accused supplying narcotics drugs in the parties that he used to arrange at various places in Bengaluru city during 2015-2020.

The First Information Report (FIR) in the drug case involving celebrities, including the petitioner, was registered on September 4, 2019, for the offences committed under NDPS Act and other laws between April 11, 2020, and September 4, 2020, the court noted.

However, as the chargesheet states that last involvement of the petitioner was on March 8, 2020, in organising a party called ‘Divine Ex-Maholli’ at Ashoka Hotel, the court wondered how he could have been arraigned as an accused in the FIR registered for the offences committed during a particular period commencing from April 11, 2020.

“It was necessary for the police to have registered separate FIRs for those past offences and filed separate chargesheets after investigation. Probably, the police might be under impression that the same FIR would suffice even for those offences relating to the years 2015, 2018, and 2019,” the court said.

The police may unearth past incidents of crimes while investigating new cases, but they could not have clubbed all past incidents of offences of supply of narcotic drugs under a single FIR, the court said while pointing that not more than three distinct offences committed by the same person within a span of 12 months can be charged and tried in one trial as per Section 219 (1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

In the 2018 case, the court found that the FIR and the chargesheet were filed against two foreign nationals and an Indian on seizure of narcotic drugs in their premises on November 2, 2018.

However, the Court noted that the petitioner was arraigned as an accused in this case only after the police recorded statement of one B.K. Ravishankar, who was a staffer at a regional transport office in the city, on September 3, 2020 during which the latter appeared to have disclosed the names of petitioner and celebrities, including film actors, allegedly indulged in procurement, supply and consumption of narcotic drugs in the parties.

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Printable version | May 26, 2022 11:08:58 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/drugs-case-hc-finds-procedural-lapse-by-police/article38304950.ece