Natcotics case: Delhi HC suspends jail term of Zimbabwean woman


New Delhi, June 23 (IANS) The Delhi High Court has suspended the 10-year prison sentence handed to a Zimbabwean woman involved in a drug recovery case.

A bench of Justice Anish Dayal noted that the investigation agencies did not adhere to the prescribed procedure for sampling the seized substance and that the accused had already spent more than four years in custody.

The appellant, a 38-year-old Zimbabwean citizen named Betty Rame, was apprehended by an Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) team at the IGI Airport in April 2018 was allegedly carrying two packets containing a crystalline substance weighing three kilograms, later confirmed to be Methamphetamine.

Rame has already been in custody for four years, 11 months, and 18 days, and was convicted in August 2021 and sentenced to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment, along with a fine of Rs 1 lakh, under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.

Justice Dayal emphasised on the importance of complying with the standing orders issued by the NCB and the Ministry of Finance, stating that the failure to adhere to these provisions introduces reasonable doubt, which affects the issue of proving the accused’s guilt.

The court stated that considering that the appellant may have a valid argument regarding defective sampling during the seizure and has already served a significant portion of the sentence, it finds it appropriate to suspend the appellant’s sentence.

It then ordered the suspension of the sentence pending the hearing of the appeal, on the condition that the appellant provides a personal bond of Rs 1,00,000 with one surety bond of the same amount.

Citing a Supreme Court ruling, the court mentioned that in cases other than life sentences, the broad parameter of 50 per cent of the actual sentence served can be used as a basis for granting bail.

Seeking suspension of the sentence during the pendency of the appeal, the petitioner’s counsel requested the suspension of the sentence, arguing that the contraband was seized from separate bags, but the contents were mixed before collecting samples, which violated the standing orders.

The court said that the issue of improper sampling would need careful consideration during the appeal proceedings since it appeared that the results of the two collected samples were not fully placed on record, and there was evident mixing of the seized packets.

The court then specified conditions for the suspension of the sentence and directed the appellant not to leave the country without prior permission.

Additionally, the appellant was required to deposit a copy of her passport and report to the investigating officer on the first and third Monday of every month.


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