The Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan’s registry branch sent recommendations to the SC chief justice on Wednesday for the formation of a larger bench on narcotics. Various high courts have put forward their views on the issue of narcotics sentencing.
A three-member bench of Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, Justice Iqbal Hamidur Rehman and Justice Umar Ata Bandial sent the recommendation while hearing four identical narcotics cases at the Peshawar Registry Branch.
Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) Prosecutor Muazzam Butt told the bench the Peshawar High Court (PHC) has said when drug pushers are arrested under Section 9 of the Control of Narcotics Substances Act (CNSA) 1997, the quantity of the drugs found is divided among the number of people arrested.
According to Butt, the PHC viewed this as giving undue advantage to the accused because the divided quantity of drugs correspondingly reduces the strength of the sentence.
The PHC opined this meant the main accused gets minimum punishment from the courts and in most cases he or she avoids the sentence of life imprisonment.
“Under Section 9, the law says [the culprit] should be granted life imprisonment,” said the ANF prosecutor. “When the seized quantity is divided among the accused, then they get the minimum sentence, which is illegal.”
Judge Khosa remarked the SC has also delivered a judgment regarding the issue but there is a dissenting note in the new judgment. It is necessary that the SC form a view in this regard; the formation of a larger bench would be suitable, said Khosa.
The three-member bench then sent recommendations to the chief justice of Pakistan for the formation of larger bench on the narcotics issue.
Section 9 (c) of CNSA 1997 says there will be death or imprisonment or imprisonment for a term which may extend to fourteen years and the accused shall also be liable to fine which may be up to one million rupees, if the quantity of narcotic drug, psychotropic substance or controlled substance exceeds the limit of one kilogramme.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 25th, 2014.
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