Tamil Nadu

HC dismisses Colombian drug peddler’s plea

Prosecution witnesses in a criminal case cannot be recalled for cross-examination just because the accused had changed his/her counsel during the course of trial and the new lawyer had found the cross-examination of certain witnesses by the earlier counsel lacking in several respects, the Madras High Court has ruled.

Justice G.K. Ilanthiraiyan held so while dismissing a petition filed by Edwin Enrique, a Colombian booked by the Narcotics Control Bureau on suspicion of being a part of an international drug cartel based in Bogota, Colombia. He was held at the Chennai international airport in June 2015 with 2.35 kg of cocaine.

The judge agreed with N.P. Kumar, Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) for NCB cases, that a special court for exclusive trial of cases booked under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of 1985 had rightly refused to recall as many as three witnesses for cross-examination solely on the ground of change of counsel.

Though the case was of the year 2015, the judge pointed out that the accused remained to be in judicial custody till date. His earlier counsel had elaborately cross-examined the witnesses and their depositions had been recorded by the trial court. However, in March 2018, the accused changed his counsel on record.

The SPP brought it to the notice of the court that though the new counsel entered appearance in March 2018, a petition for recalling the witnesses was filed only in September 2018. Such a course had been adopted by the accused just to harass the witnesses and drag the trial for years together, he claimed.

It was also brought to the notice of the court that though the accused had sought to recall a total of four prosecution witnesses, the special court had allowed to recall one witness alone on payment of ₹2,000 as initial batta.

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 10:02:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/hc-dismisses-colombian-drug-peddlers-plea/article26751483.ece

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