M A I N   N E W S

Narcotics bureau ill-equipped to tackle Punjab drug menace
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 29
In a startling revelation, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) today told the Punjab and Haryana High Court that it was ill-equipped to deal with drug menace in Punjab. Expressing “surprise” at the assertion, a Division Bench of the high court in response asked the Centre to spell out the steps it intended to initiate for strengthening the bureau.

The assertion came just two months after the Punjab Government admitted before the high court that samples of seized contraband could be tampered with.

Both the statements made before the high court indicate that a losing battle against drug menace was being fought till recently in the state. As the drug menace case came up for consideration once again this morning, Assistant Solicitor General of India Anmol Rattan Sidhu told the Bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Arun Palli that the NCB was not up to the mark as far as infrastructure was concerned.

Sidhu minced no words to say that its powers to deal with the menace were “limited” due to infrastructural issues and inadequate manpower. Its zonal unit at Chandigarh had under its jurisdiction not just Chandigarh, Punjab, Haryana but also Himachal Pradesh with just seven investigating officers. Taking a note of the assertion, the Bench said it was “surprised” to know the inadequacies hounding the bureau as the issue of drug menace had been receiving attention for sometime now and the strengthening of the bureau was the least that was expected. Speaking for the Bench, Chief Justice Kaul said the need of the hour was to enhance the capabilities of the bureau and asked the Centre to place before it -- in a sealed cover -- the steps it proposed to take for the purpose.

The Bench also called for status reports in sealed covers from the State of Punjab and the bureau. The Bench further indicated that it was more inclined towards strengthening the bureau than handing over the matter to the CBI.

The Bench was apparently of the view that a holistic view on the issue was required, which included plugging the gaps to check the inflow of drugs from across the border and to fight with the menace at the local level, rather than just handing over the probe to the premier investigation agency.

Won’t allow parties to hijack issue: HC

PPCC president Partap Singh Bajwa's apparent attempt to take credit for a CBI probe into the drug menace suffered a setback with the Punjab and Haryana High Court making it clear that political parties won't be allowed to highjack the issue. Bajwa's plea for placing on record newspaper clippings on the issue failed to find favour with the court.





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