It is surprising that scores of drug related cases would remain unadjudicated, some of them for as many as eight years, because witnesses fail to turn up for the hearings. That is exactly what the situation is in the Court of the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, (CMM) Chittagong, according to a recent report in the leading Bangla Daily, Prothom Alo. According to that paper for example, an officer of the general registry office, which happens to be a few hundred yards from the CMM, Chittagong, could not find time in 30 months to appear before the court in a case in which he happens to be a witness. The matter assumes a preposterous degree of absurdity when one finds that one such case has been pending for last eight and a half years, and the investigating officer has not turned up as witness in these years. As many as five hundred police witnesses are defaulters.
The Drugs Control Act 2018 is very clear on this matter. These cases must be completed within 90 working days from the date of arraignment, and there can be an extension of 45 days at most. There can be no earthly reason why a trial should linger on for such inordinate length of time. Police duty does not end with submission of the charge sheet. They have a responsibility of not only investigating the case but also to see the case through.
When it is their duty to ensure the presence of the witnesses, there can be acceptable reason why policemen should fail to turn up in the court as witnesses in the appointed time and date. It goes without saying that such delays spoil the merit of the case, which ultimately helps the real drug dealers to escape the law. It cuts the other way too. In some cases, some innocents do get roped in. Such excessive delays are a burden on them too.