KOCHI: The recent Supreme Court verdict that bars complainant police officer acting as the investigating officer in same case has put the state Excise department in a Catch-22 position. All of sudden, it has to initiate re-investigation in around 8,000 cases.
The apex court, in its order on August 16, 2018, said the informant and the investigator can’t be the same person “as a fair investigation is the very foundation of a fair trial”.
This means the officer who detected and seized narcotic substances can no longer lodge chargesheet before the court.
“The impact of the judgment is that re-investigation have to be initiated in about 8,000 cases booked under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. These cases were detected and investigated by the same officers.
“Of this, only a miniscule (200 cases) are major drug hauls. A majority of them are minor catches,” said an Excise officer. Officers admitted that the verdict has hit adversely the cases registered by the Excise.
Excise Commissioner Rishiraj Singh has filed a memorandum with the state government seeking its approval to approach the respective courts for re-investigation in these cases. According to the Excise department’s data, it has detected 2,753 cases till August 30, 2018. Of this, 1,383 cases are being probed by the same officers who detected the crime.
The department has entrusted Excise Circle Inspectors to initiate inquiry into the cases detected by Inspectors, and Assistant Excise Commissioners to probe the cases detected by Circle Inspectors in the following the Supreme Court order.
“The department would approach respective courts where the chargesheets have been filed seeking further inquiry into these cases. With the permission of the court a senior officer would carry out the investigation,” said an officer citing that Excise was looking up to overcome the situation.