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Saturday, April 13 2024

SC: drug traffickers cause deleterious effects and deadly impact on society

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New Delhi:  The Supreme Court on Tuesday said drug trafficking is a more heinous crime than murder, as people dealing in narcotics are instruments in causing death or in inflicting a death blow to several innocent, young victims.

A bench comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and M.R. Shah said psychotropic substances pose serious problems to national governments. “it should be borne in mind that in a murder case, the accused commits murder of one or two persons, while those persons who are dealing in narcotic drugs are instruments in causing death or in inflicting death blow to number of innocent young victims who are vulnerable”, said the bench.

The bench added that drug traffickers cause deleterious effects and deadly impact on society. The court further added that organised activities of the underworld and the clandestine smuggling of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances into this country lead to drug addiction among a sizeable section of the public, particularly adolescents and students of both sexes. “The menace has assumed serious and alarming proportions in the recent years. Therefore, it has a deadly impact on the society as a whole”, noted the bench.

The observations from the top court came while dismissing an appeal challenging the November 2019 verdict of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The High Court had upheld a trial court order which convicted a man found in possession of 1 kg heroin, for the offence punishable under the provision of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. The accused was sentenced to 15 years in jail along with a fine of Rs 2 lakh.

The bench noted that while awarding sentence in NDPS Act cases, the interest of the society as a whole is supposed to be considered. “Therefore, while striking balance between the mitigating and aggravating circumstances, public interest, impact on the society as a whole will always be tilt in favour of the suitable higher punishment”, said the top court.

The counsel for the accused argued that he was not the mastermind in the drug trafficking racket, instead he was a poor person, a first-time convict, and was only a carrier. “Merely because the accused is a poor man and/or a carrier and/or is a sole bread earner cannot be such mitigating circumstances in favour of the accused while awarding the sentence/punishment in the case of NDPS Act”, noted the top court.

The bench cited its December, last year, where it had refused to interfere with the conviction of the accused under section 21 of the NDPS Act in the case and had issued notice confined to the question of sentence.

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