Vijayawada, November 29: Expressing displeasure over investigation and prosecution in drug cases, Andhra Pradesh high court issued a slew of guidelines to the police and special courts dealing with such matters.

The high court observed that in the cases registered under NDPS Act, drivers, ganja couriers, and others are being shown as accused, while actual big sharks are let off.

The court also observed that law enforcement agencies are conducting investigations in a casual manner without taking the social impact of the drugs into consideration.

In her judgment before her transfer to the Telangana high court, Justice Lalitha Kanneganti said the special court at Vizag city is not taking steps to list the cases.

Even the bail applications and extension of custody applications are not being heard in accordance with the Supreme Court guidelines, she noted.

Regarding granting bail to the driver and cleaner of ganja-laden vehicles, Justice Lalitha noted that according to the Supreme Court guidelines if the charge sheet is not filed, the accused has an indefeasible right to bail which cannot be rejected.

She said that if the investigation agency did not file an application for extension, the courts should consider that the accused was deemed to be eligible for bail.

Justice Lalitha noted that the high court has been getting several cases where the accused are in judicial custody for more than six months.

Though several order copies have been sent to the Director-General of Police (DGP), these cases continue to come before the high court.

She also observed that there seems to have large-scale cultivation of ganja in Agency areas and the locals do not have a clue about its legal implications.

She suggested establishing a special wing to investigate these cases and also sensitize locals by conducting awareness drives.

5,500 acres of Ganja destroyed in Vizag Agency

The Special Enforcement Bureau (SEB) with the support of the police and revenue officials destroyed ganja plants growing in over 5,500 acres under eight mandal limits in Vizag Agency in the past few weeks under Operation Parivarthana.

It may be recalled that the Andhra Pradesh government launched Operation Parivarthana a few weeks ago to create awareness about the consequences of the illegal trade and educate growers on alternative crops.

The joint director of SEB, Vizag, S. Satish Kumar told the media on Saturday that they used 30 machine cutters and other equipment to destroy cannabis plants in 5,500 acres, including in some cut-off areas in Vizag Agency. The locals voluntarily destroyed the ganja plants in over 360 acres in Vizag Agency, he said, and added that according to rough estimates, cannabis is being grown on 12,000 acres in the Vizag region.

Asked about the resistance of the tribal farmers, Mr. Kumar said in some places in Vizag Agency ganja growers had resisted the destruction of the plants but the SEB teams had successfully created awareness among them about the consequences of the trade.

In the past four months, the SEB has seized over 23,000 kg of dry ganja in the Vizag Rural and Urban areas. Over 10 teams, each comprising around 60 to 80 personnel, have been engaged in Operation Parivarthana.

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