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Two days before expiry of 10 yr jail term in drug case, two foreigners ordered to be released by HC

Law Crime

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Two days before their 10 year jail term in a drugs case was completed, two foreigners, including a woman, were ordered to be "forthwith" released by the Delhi High Court as there were several inconsistencies in the case of the prosecution.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru noted that there were inconsistencies in the witness statements with regard to seizure of the banned substance -- 1.78 kilograms of cocaine -- questioning and search of the two accused and various other aspects of the case.

The high court in its order of May 13 observed that only two days were left in their 10 year jail term and directed they be released "forthwith".

The woman, Laya -- a 50 year old Philippine national -- had arrived here on May 14, 2010, and the other was a Nigerian national Okafor, who was already residing here.

Both of them were arrested on May 15, 2010 and were in prison since then.

The order came on their appeals challenging their conviction and 10 year jail term awarded by a trial court in 2015 for offences committed under various provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 for conspiracy to import banned contraband into the country.

According to the prosecution, the woman had met the Nigerian the last time she was here and thereafter, agreed to bring in the contraband for him who had offered to pay her USD 2,000.

The court, however, said no evidence has been brought on record to show there was any connection between them and therefore, "the prosecution has failed to establish that there was any meeting of minds between" the two.

'In view of the above, this Court is unable to sustain the conviction of Okafor (Nigerian). He is, accordingly, acquitted of the charges for which he was convicted. Accordingly, Laya (Philippine national) is also acquitted of committing an offence under the NDPS Act and her conviction is set aside," the judge said.

The high court further said, "...there is considerable doubt as to the manner in which the contraband was recovered and the chain of custody of samples has also not been established. The possibility of tampering with the same also cannot be ruled out.

"Accordingly, the appeals are allowed and the appellants are acquitted.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, May 18 2020. 22:15 IST