The District Central Jail has been facing problem of plenty. A large number of the cells are filled by smugglers who were caught while trying to smuggle ganja weed (cannabis) from Agency areas in the district
The number has reached an alarming proportion and the jail authorities are facing difficulty for space. Most of the smugglers are remand prisoners and recently they staged a small protest demanding bail.
As per the records there are about 441 prisoners, who have been booked under the NDPS Act, and of them 29 have already been serving sentences varying from 1 to 10 years.
Of the remaining 208 are smugglers from other states such as Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, UP, West Bengal and Odisha and 197 are from AP.
As per the records, of the total, about 243 are tribals. According to Kuppili Muralidhar of District Legal Services Authority (DLSA), some have been languishing in jail for over two years and are yet to get bail.
The NDPS Act is very stringent and getting bail is difficult. The cases are booked under three categories: smugglers caught with 1kg or below quantity, between 1 kg to 20 kg and 20 kg and above.
“For those booked below 1kg, getting a bail is easy. But for other two categories it is difficult and it may take over six months to get a bail,” said Deputy Commissioner of Excise and Prohibition SVVN Babji Rao.
NDPS Act lays out some very strong sections and at times smugglers booked under the relevant sections are treated on par with criminals who have committed grave crimes such as murder and rape, said Mr. Muralidhar.
“Punishment under the NDPS Act, if booked properly can go from 7 to 20 years. And getting a bail in such cases is difficult and it may extend beyond six months. And this one reason adding up to the number in the Central Jail,” he said.
Another reason is that there is only one court handling the NDPS cases and this court also handles other criminal cases.
This is also slowing down the disposal of NDPS cases.
In every ganja case for bail cash surety of Rs. 2 to 3 lakh and at least two to three personal sureties.
Most of the people booked under the NDPS Act are poor tribals who are nothing but mere courier boys. It is difficult for them to produce so much of cash and personal surety and this is one reason for the flooding of the jail, said Mr. Muralidhar.
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