TAMIL NADU

`Ganja, cash planted in Serijabanu's houses to appease some persons'

CHENNAI OCT. 22. The arrest of Serijabanu alias Janani in Madurai on July 11 and the ``planting of huge quantities of ganja and cash at her residences'' was done to "appease some persons and for some other reasons", her counsel, Kapil Sibal, submitted in the Madras High Court today.

Arguing her bail petition before Justice M. Karpagavinayagam, Mr. Sibal cited discrepancies in the seizure memo, first information report and the remand report and said it was a "clear case of planting of ganja" at Ms. Serijabanu's house.

While the seizure memo did not specify the quantum of ganja recovered, the FIR said 15 kg was found in gunny bags and another 5 kg in a separate package. The remand report said only 15 kg of ganja was recovered.

He said that when the issue was brought to the notice of the special judge for Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) cases, the prosecution conceded that it was "a mistake and a minor discrepancy."

Pointing out that 20 kg was the "threshold quantity" for establishing that the ganja was meant for commercial purpose under the NDPS Act, Mr. Sibal said the prosecution planted various quantities at Ms. Serijabanu's residences and her car only to fulfil this requirement.

The police, who seized the petitioner's cellphones after the arrest, were yet to submit the details of recorded numbers before the court, despite the accused was in custody for 108 days.

Mr. Sibal urged the court to summon the entire telephone report for scrutiny.

Relying on a telegram sent on July 10 by her relative, intimating higher authorities about the illegal detention of Ms. Serijabanu and her mother, he said such a complaint could not have emanated if everybody was at large.

According to him, Ms. Serijabanu and her mother were arrested on July 9 itself, but their arrests were accounted for only two days later.

He submitted that the police failed to comply with the mandatory provisions of the NDPS Act as enumerated in Sections 42, 50 and 57. Courts could grant bail or even set aside the entire proceedings if these mandatory provisions were not honoured, he said. When the public prosecutor, I. Subramaniam, sought time to file counter-affidavit, the judge adjourned the matter for October 28.

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