The Madras High Court Bench here has confirmed the conviction and 12 years of rigorous imprisonment imposed on four individuals for attempting to smuggle 17.384 kg of heroin to Sri Lanka through Pudumadam seashore near Uchipuli in Ramanathapuram district.
Justice M. Sathyanarayanan dismissed the joint criminal appeal filed by Ponmuthuvel, Pitchai alias Gandhi, Murugan and Muniasamy alias Kuripatti Muniasamy considering the huge quantity of narcotic substance involved in the case, the gravity of the offence and its impact on society.
He pointed out that the Narcotics Intelligence Bureau (NIB) in Chennai had been tipped off over phone about the plan hatched by a group of people to transport heroin from Pudukottai district to the seashore in Ramanathapuram by road and then to Sri Lanka in a boat.
Hence, the officials mounted surveillance near Pudumadam seashore and checked every vehicle passing through the way.
In the process, they stopped a mini goods vehicle in which the appellants were travelling and seized the contraband hidden inside two large automobile batteries.
After trial, a Special Court, for hearing cases booked under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, convicted the prime accused under four different provisions of the law and sentenced him to 12 years of rigorous imprisonment under each provision.
He was also imposed a fine of Rs. 1.25 lakh under each provision (totalling to Rs.5 lakh) and ordered to undergo four more years of imprisonment in case of default. However, the Special Court made it clear that the sentences should run concurrently and not consecutively.
It had convicted each of the other three convicts under three different provisions of the NDPS Act and imposed similar sentences.
The total fine amount imposed on the three convicts worked out to Rs. 3.5 lakh each and hence they had preferred the present appeal.
‘Well reasoned lower court judgement’
Holding that the trial court had passed a well reasoned judgement after a threadbare analysis of the oral as well as documentary evidence, Mr. Justice Sathyanarayanan said that he found no reason or tenable grounds to interfere with the lower court verdict.