HC acquits woman of drug charge after 25 years
Bombay High Court termed the raid at the woman's Dongri house illegal
Twenty-five years after a woman was booked for possession of heroin, the Bombay High Court has set aside the order of her conviction by a sessions court and observed that the search of her house carried out by the officers of the excise department was illegal.
Nafisa Mohammed Hussain Sayed (55), a resident of Dongri in Andheri (West), was arrested after samples of the 12 grams of heroin found in her house in March 1989, were tested.
Sub-inspector Ramrao Shejole and inspector Aub Ismail Sabhib, two excise officers, had claimed that they received information about the drugs in the woman's possession on March 29, 1989. Panchas (witnesses) were called and a raid was conducted immediately. Along with the heroin, the excise officers also claimed to have found 2 liters of illicit liquor in Nafisa's possession.
Yunus Mohammed Ibrahim Sayed, a co-accused in the case, died in 2003. After her arrest, Nafisa stayed in jail for a few days and was released on bail. However, after her conviction under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, she was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. "She spent 10 months in jail and was granted bail after she filed an appeal in the Bombay High Court in 1993," said her lawyer Mahesh Vaswani.
Nafisa's lawyers Jagdish Shetty and Vaswani told the court that the officers who searched Nafisa's house had not allowed the accused to examine them before conducting a search. "Section 50 of the NDPS Act mandates that the accused be allowed to conduct a personal search of the officers so that no drugs are planted by them," Vaswani said.
"Considering the manner in which raid was conducted giving a go-bye to elementary requirement of such raid by not even offering personal search before hut was searched, the learned trial judge could not have held the appellants guilty of possession of heroin. The conviction of the appellant No.1 (Nafisa), therefore, is unsustainable," Justice R C Chavan observed.
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