Drug cases: Punjab CM bats for fast-track courts

Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has suggested the formation of fast-track courts for speedy trials under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act while mooting for the preventive detention of repeat wrongdoers.
Holding a videoconferencing with top district administrative and police officials to review the progress on drug eradication and discuss future strategy here, the CM said he would discuss the operationalising of fast-track courts at the earliest with the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
“The NDPS Act provides for preventive detention of such offenders, the CM said.
The video conference was preceded by a meeting of the consultative group on drugs, headed by the chief minister, an official release said.
The chief minister extended his government’s full support to the eight Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) teams assigned to map the border areas of Punjab and coordinate the fight against drugs in the region.
The NCB and the Punjab government also decided on Wednesday to conduct joint operations and share information on drugs by pooling in resources to effectively tackle the menace in the state.
The decision was taken during a separate meeting between NCB Director General Abhay and Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.
The former had called on the Chief Minister during a visit to Chandigarh and the two shared their concern and strategies on the issue, an official statement said.
The NCB chief extended full support of the agency in training and capacity-building of the Punjab Police to effectively carry out investigations in cases under the NDPS Act.
They also discussed a joint training of prosecutors, police and judicial officers to achieve higher conviction rates in drug cases.
The two also discussed ways of formulating a strong and impactful proposal on preventive detention for repeat offenders, which the Chief Minister had mooted earlier in the day during a meeting of a consultative group on drugs, followed by a video conference with SPs and DCs.
They also discussed steps to make strong cases for the forfeiture of the property of drug smugglers.
Abhay suggested that the STF set up by the Punjab government to tackle the problem and the CPs/SSPs should focus only on enforcement, with the tasks of de-addiction, rehabilitation and awareness creation to be entrusted to the civil administration.
Earlier during a meeting of the consultative group on drugs, NCB Deputy Director General S K Jha informed that around 25 officers, including himself, had been deputed to strengthen coordination with other states such as Jammu and Kashmir and Gujarat, which had emerged as major sources of drugs flow into this state.
Jha underlined the need to chase money trails to check drug trafficking.
Punjab DGP Dinkar Gupta informed that the chief minister’s letter to the prime minister, seeking a national drugs policy, had evoked positive response from the Centre, with Home Minister Amit Shah directing his officers to ensure better coordination in the matter.
The Narcotics Control Bureau has drawn 24 officers from other parts of the country and deployed them in Punjab to carry forward the anti-drugs fight in the border, said the DGP.
It was also announced that Punjab would host the next meeting of the chief ministers of neighbouring states for more effective coordination.
The CM reiterated his government’s zero tolerance policy against the involvement of government officials, including policemen.
Taking cognisance of complaints of collusion of police officers with drug smugglers/traders/peddlers, he directed the DGP to bring out a comprehensive posting/transfer policy to break the nexus.
He warned stringent action against the black sheep. Those involved would face dismissal or compulsorily retirement, he added.
Criminal cases under Section 29 (abetment) of the NDPS Act (Abetment) and the Prevention of Corruption Act to be registered against officials, wherever involvement and wrongdoing was established, he added.
The CM said the drug eradication campaign would now be carried out in the mission mode, with transfers and postings of DCs/SSPs to depend on performance in the drive against drugs.
DSPs/SHOs would be held accountable for any drug-related crime in their area, with monthly reviews to be conducted by the IGPs/DIGs Ranges, he said.
Non-performing DSPs/SHOs would be shunted out, the chief minister said.
PTI