By Amiya Kumar Kushwaha
New Delhi [India], May 18 (ANI): Two foreign nationals, who spent nearly the entire past decade in prison serving their sentence in a Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act case, have been acquitted of all charges by Delhi High Court.
A bench of Justice Vibhu Bakhru acquitted Philippines national Laya Emilyn and Nigerian Okafor Chukwuka Ugochukwu of charges dealing with NDPS Act and ordered to release them immediately saying that they were two days short of completing their 10 year sentence.
The court was hearing pleas, challenging a trial court order which had convicted and sentenced the two under several relevant sections of the NDPS Act, including criminal conspiracy, posession of commercial quantity drugs and illegally importing commercial quantity drugs.
"Laya and Okafor are two days short of completing their prison sentence. They shall be released forthwith. The Jail authorities shall act on the basis of the order," the court said in its order issued on May 13.
Defence counsel Kanhaiya Singhal told ANI that the two foreign nationals have been released from jail, but now the two foreigners are being kept in detention centres here and added that the condition of these centres are not good.
The two have been in jail ever since their arrest on May 15, 2010. They were convicted and sentenced to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment by a trial court in September 2015 and slapped with a fine of Rs 1 lakh each.
"In order to sustain an allegation of conspiracy, it must be established that there was some meeting of minds of the co-conspirators. Clearly, examination of call record details would indicate whether Laya was in touch with Okafor. However, the fact that no such material or evidence has been brought on record, raises considerable doubt whether they were ever in touch with each other," the court said in its May 13 order.
"In the circumstances, the prosecution has failed to establish that there was any meeting of minds between Okafor and Laya to sustain an allegation of conspiracy," the order added.
According to the prosecution, Laya was caught with a huge quantity of cocaine in her bag in May 2010 and upon questioning told the Narcotics Control Bureau that it was to be delivered to one Okafor.
Defence counsel Kanhaiya Singhal had contended that apart from the statement of Okafor and Laya, there was no material whatsoever to establish any conspiracy between Laya and Okafor.
He submitted that the said statements could not be relied upon and added that Okafor could not be convicted solely on a statement of a co-accused.
The court also found some inconsistencies in the testimony of witnesses over whether the said bag was locked or not. While one witness had deposed that the bag was locked and had been opened by Laya, another witness has stated that the bag was not locked. (ANI)