Will Prez act against drug scandal?

mundra adani ports

Seizure of drugs worth Rs 21,000 crore from a private port is a serious question that demands a very deep probe into all connected affairs. A Gujarat Special Court has raised a very substantive question. Indeed, it was a welcome measure that on September 25, the special court for Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances in Gujarat has directed the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) to investigate if the “Mundra Adani Port, its management and its authority has gained any benefits” from the import of 2,990 kg heroin, seized by the DRI on September 16.

The judge also said this seizure has raised “many issues” that should be investigated, including “why the consignment was “registered and landed at Mundra Adani Port, Gujarat, which is far from Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, that is surrounded by other ports like the Chennai port?” The Additional District Judge C M Pawar, while hearing the remand application of one of the key-accused, Rajkumar P (a Coimbatore resident who used WhatsApp to broker the deal between the Indian company and a Iranian exporter), in his order said:

“… it is required to be investigated that what is the role of authority and officers of Mundra Adani Port while such consignment/container was sent/imported from foreign nation to India and landed at Mundra Adani Port and how management, authority and officer of Mundra Adani port was completely under dark and oblivious about the fact of import of such consignment at Mundra Adani Port wherein contraband heroin of approximately 2,990 kgs was found and whether Mundra Adani Port, its management and its authority has gained any benefits from import of such consignment of NDPS substances in India.”

It is reported that the Special Court has further asked the DRI to investigate “the modalities and the process for scanning and checking of such container and consignment at foreign nations and at Mundra port when said consignment/container was sent/imported from foreign nation to India and landed at Mundra Adani Port.”

The special court on September 26 also pointed out some more very serious issues involved in this affair. It said that in the last two years, the sea at Gujarat, especially the sea area of Kachchh district, has become a hub for “importing/smuggling of contraband in huge quantities from foreign countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan” running into crores of rupees. The court stressed the DRI should investigate all aspects of the case booked by it against Aashi Trading, including the probe into the management and officials of Mundra Adani Port, even if other agencies are investigating the case.

In a statement on September 22, 2021, the Press Information Bureau (PIB) stated, “A total of eight persons including four Afghan nationals, one Uzbek and three Indians have been arrested so far. The arrested Indian nationals include the holder of the Import Export Code (IEC), which was used to import the consignment. He was arrested from Chennai. Investigations are in progress.” One can imagine how much of damage this stock of drugs could cause to Indian youth.

The most important point to be noted is that this has been smuggled to India through these private ports.

Media reported that this Talibani-drug scam has attracted a variety of criticism. Singer Composer Vishal Dadlani has alleged that Shah Rukh Khan and his family are being used as a smokescreen: He wrote: “If Composers count, I am.

SRK and his family are being used as a smokescreen, a soft target to distract from the 3000kg Talibani-drug haul at the Adani port, and to distract from the murder of farmers by the son of a BJP member/MLA. Straight-up.

In fact, Vishal Dadlani has ventilated a common man’s doubt. Seizure of Rs 21,000 crore drugs demands a deeper and more serious probe than a hype being built around the arrest of a celebrity’s son.

AP police statements

The AP police statement also raises some more doubts. Vijayawada Police Commissioner B Sreenivasulu, as per a news portal report, had issued a ‘clarification’ that the company was not directly involved with the import of drugs and that only the address of the firm was used for shipping purposes by miscreants. The Vijayawada police further said in a public statement that “so far, no activity, except using the Vijayawada house address for obtaining licences (by the wife for import and export), has come to notice. However, further enquiries are being conducted.”

Why this kind of open certification of clearance through the media? If that is so, why the couple were arrested and remanded to DRI custody? After identifying that the importer firm, as Aashi Trading Company, which is alleged to be run by M Sudhakar and his wife G Durga Purna Vaishali, they have been arrested by the DRI from Chennai and they were later brought to Bhuj town in Kutch. On September 20, the couple was produced before a special court for NDPS cases in Bhuj that granted 10 days’ custody of the two to the DRI. Which investigator is correct- AP Police or DRI?

Film Actor and Janasena Party leader Pawan Kalyan says: “During my ‘Porata Yatra’ in 2018, which was meant to understand the socio-economic issues of people of the state, in the tribal areas of Andhra-Orissa border I had received numerous complaints about health, unemployment, illegal mining and about ‘Ganja trade and its mafia’.”

The Jana Sena leader posted several video clips of police officials of different States and cities to support his allegations/claims.

From January 1 till December 28, 2021, drugs worth Rs 4.46 crore were seized daily in Gujarat on an average; this does not include Rs 15,000 crore heroin haul at Mundra Port in September 2021. These figures reveal that drugs worth Rs 1,617 crore were seized from Gujarat in 2021. This involved seizure of 68,184 kg drugs, which amounts to an average per day seizure of 188 kg contraband worth Rs 4.46 crore.

Several nations developed special programmes to detect and prevent the drug intrusions into their countries. For instance, in Canada, the Coastal/Airport Watch Program was established by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to assist in the identification of persons, vessels, vehicles and aircraft that may constitute a threat to Canada’s national security, or that be involved in illegal activities such as drug importation.

Drugs, primarily cannabis products, cocaine and heroin, are continually being imported by vessels and aircraft across the country using various methods. Other illegal activities include terrorism; smuggling of weapons, cigarettes and alcohol; income tax fraud and evasion; theft of logs/shake blocks and illegal log salvage; persons illegally entering the country; illegal waste discharge, etc. Law enforcement needs more “eyes and ears.” Members of the public are being encouraged to report, on a confidential basis, any activity that appears suspicious.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the World Customs Organization (WCO) say that about 90% of all trade is conducted via maritime containers. Surprisingly, of this amount, less than 2% only are inspected. The incredible volume of containers travelling the seas from country to country and continent to continent make them important targets for actors in the illicit drug trade, and even more so for actors involved in producing and delivering counterfeit goods and merchandise.

The global dependency on maritime trade, combined with not only sophisticated concealment methods employed by narco-traffickers or counterfeiters, but also diverse trafficking routes, make successful interdiction and intervention difficult. This situation is posing a serious threat to the international trade supply as well as to sustainable development.

These issues create serious doubts about possibility of independent and objective probe into this huge drug mafia originating from Andhra Pradesh and linked to countries like Afghanistan operating through the ports handled by big private corporate conglomerates. Suspicion that either tacit or active encouragement from political outfits has to be ruled out. When more than half a dozen states’ police officers officially revealing the Ganja links to Andhra Pradesh and Afghanistan, the problem should be understood as big threat to nation’s security through illegal money gained by narcotic drug mafia. This will surely upset the economy of the country.

All these developments emphasis the need for a comprehensive probe by a Special Investigative Team. In such circumstances earlier, the Supreme Court took necessary initiative to safeguard the nation. In case of Ram Jethmalani & Ors v. Union of India & Ors (http://indiankanoon.org/doc/549841/) known as black money case, on 23 September, 2011, the Supreme Court has constituted a special investigation team as the issues involved were complex and would require expertise and knowledge of different departments and the coordination of efforts between various agencies and departments.

Earlier in Ram Jethmalani & Ors v. Union of India & Ors (https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1232445) on 4 July, 2011 directed the Special Investigation Team to take over the investigation. In Jain Hawala (https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1203995/) case also SIT was constituted by SC to probe hawala links with politics. SC held that SIT is needed for strengthening of the machinery of investigations, and vigil by broader citizenry in ensuring that the agents of State do not weaken such machinery, in several cases such as Extra Judicial Execution Victim Families Association v. Union of India, (2013) 2 SCC 493; G.S. Mani v. Union of India, order dated 12.12.2019 in W.P. (Crl.) No. 348 of 2019. The latest decision of the Supreme Court (https://indiankanoon.org/doc/39021018/) on October 27, 2021 in Pegasus spyware scandal matter stands above all declaring the need for judicial initiative in matters of high public importance where the rights of the people suffer en mass.

EDI, NIA and other agencies are probing this mafia drugs links, the political and international connections. But still the peculiar circumstances, high quantum of drugs and international dimensions necessitate the attention of all the four estates – Executive, Legislature, and Judiciary besides the mainstream media – especially, the need for the Supreme Court to supervise the probe for unearthing the criminal roots of this big drugs scandal. These are not wild allegations based on imagination of newspapers, because the news reports cited in this representation are based on official press conferences of the police and other investigating officials of different states. While the orders for stocks emerge from a city in Andhra Pradesh, the links are beyond the borders of the nation, which are established with recovery of huge stocks from a private port.



Courtesy: Hans News Service , | Jan 24 and 31, 2022

 Dr. Madabhushi Sridhar Acharyulu was a Professor at Nalsar University of Law in       Hyderabad, former Central Information Commissioner and presently is Dean & Professor, School of Law, Mahindra University, Hyderabad.

Email:[email protected]


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