Drugs case: Court rejects deportation plea of 8 Pak nationals

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Mumbai, Feb 16 (PTI) A special court here has rejected the deportation plea of eight Pakistani nationals, who were nabbed by the Indian Coast Guard off Gujarat coast with a boat allegedly carrying over 200 kg of heroin in 2015.

The accused, who are facing trial under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, sought deportation from India to Karachi, Pakistan on the ground that the court had no territorial jurisdiction to try the case.

While the plea was rejected on Monday, the detailed order was made available on Tuesday.

The accused had been apprehended with 232 kg of heroin worth Rs 6.96 crore by the Coast Guard and were later handed over to Yellowgate police station in south Mumbai.

The petitioner's lawyer had argued the accused were apprehended from international waters when they were found on a boat allegedly carrying heroin.

He further submitted according to the testimony of a prosecution witness that the said boat was found 157 nautical miles away from Mitha Port (in Gujarat), which is closest Indian port from the said location.

Thus, the point of interception of the boat was beyond the territorial limits of the jurisdiction of India, he stated.

He further said that when the accused were first produced before a court at Porbandar (Gujarat) in 2015, it had observed that Indian courts have no territorial jurisdiction to try the alleged offences committed by foreign nationals on a foreign vessel outside the territorial jurisdiction of India.

Hence, if the trial is proceeded further, it would vitiate the same on account of want of jurisdiction to this court, he added.

However, the prosecution strongly opposed the deportation plea, stating that the territorial waters of India continued up to continental shelf, exclusive economic zone and other as per the Maritime Act 1976.

As per a provision of the Act, there is an Exclusive Economic Zone of India, which is an area beyond and adjacent to the territorial waters, and limit of such zone is 200 nautical miles.

He further argued that there is a resolution adopted by the United Nations Conference for adoption of a convention against illicit traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988.

'Article 4 (b) (iii) of the said Resolution clearly mentions that, the offence committed outside its territory with a view to the commission of any offence within its territory shall be covered,' he said.

Special judge V V Vidhwans after considering submissions of both the sides rejected the plea, terming it as 'premature' at this stage.

Considering seriousness of the offences, the quantity of the narcotics allegedly seized from the boat and that the aspect of national security is involved, it will be proper to give the prosecution reasonable opportunity to prove the aspect of jurisdiction of court and its case on merits, the court added. PTI AVI ARU ARU