A drug peddler was lucky to escape the noose twice as the Calcutta High Court on Tuesday (November 26) commuted his death sentence for the second time after having given him a similar reprieve in another case in 2012.
The 75-year-old drug peddler, who was arrested in 2002, was sentenced to 30 years in prison by a division bench comprising Justices Joymalya Bagchi and Suvra Ghosh that commuted his death penalty.
Anisur Rahman, who was convicted of possessing a large quantity of drugs, will remain in prison for another 13 years to complete the sentence awarded to him on Tuesday.
He was arrested in 2002 from his Salt Lake residence with 3.5 kg of heroin by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) and has been in prison since then. Rahman was also charged in another case for possession of contraband drugs weighing over 2 kg. The City Sessions Court awarded him the death penalty in connection with the second case in 2006 under Section 31A of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.
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Rahman moved an appeal before the high court, which commuted his death sentence to 15 years of rigorous imprisonment.
Meanwhile, his trial in the first case was completed before the Barasat district and sessions court, which also awarded him the death penalty after finding him guilty in 2014 since he was a repeat offender.
Rahman again moved an appeal before the high court challenging the death penalty, his lawyer Indrajit De said.
Passing its order on Tuesday, the bench presided by Justice Bagchi observed that since the capital punishment has been made optional through an amendment, Rahman may be granted relief in the form of commutation of the death sentence.
Section 31A of NDPS Act was amended in 2014, which made it optional for the judge to award the death sentence instead of being compulsory punishment for commercial possession of narcotics.
(With PTI inputs)