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Online Marijuana Sale: CAIT Seeks Court-Monitored Probe Against Amazon

Online Marijuana Sale: CAIT Seeks Court-Monitored Probe Against Amazon

In its petition, the traders’ body reiterated its allegation that Amazon officials are involved in a nexus and were complicit in the sales

On November 20, Madhya Pradesh Police registered a case against executives of the ecommerce giant under the NDPS Act

The matter came to light on November 14th, when the local police arrested two people for selling marijuana in Bhind.

The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has filed a writ petition at the Madhya Pradesh High Court seeking a court-monitored probe by a central agency like the National Narcotics Bureau (NCB) in the alleged online sale of marijuana through Amazon India’s platform.

In its petition, the traders’ body reiterated its allegation that Amazon officials are involved in a nexus and were complicit in the sales.

“There is every likelihood that the investigation will not touch the big fish, the senior Amazon officials and only a few small traders, delivery boys, drivers will be investigated,” it said.

The petition alleged that even after the registration of an FIR, no action has been taken by the local police in the right direction.

CAIT also raised concerns and indicated a foul play in the transfer of Manoj Singh, who was investigating the matter as the Superintendent of Police at Bhind District.

“The timing of his transfer smacks of bias and makes the same questionable. It seems that a free and fair probe of allegations against a global giant like Amazon is not possible in the absence of an independent agency, most suitably by NCB -Narcotics Control Bureau or by a Special Investigation Agency (SIT) or court monitored probe. The investigation of this agency must be monitored by this court in the interest of justice,” it said 

“Traders across Country @CAITIndia strongly urge MP CM @ChouhanShivraj & HM @drnarottammisra to order the arrest of Amazon officials who are named as accused in the FIR. MP Govt has shown the way how Govt works & expect it to create a landmark as to how law works @PMOIndia @PiyushGoyal,” Praveen Khandelwal, Secretary General, CAIT tweeted yesterday (12th December). 

Amazon India did not respond to a mail sent by Inc42 on this matter till the time of publishing this story. The story will be updated whenever it responds to the query.

Previously the company spokesperson had said that Amazon operates a marketplace in India (amazon.in), enabling third-party sellers to display, list and offer products for sale to end-customers directly. 

“We do not allow the listing and sale of products which are prohibited under law to be sold in India. However, in case sellers list such products, as an intermediary, we take strict action as may be required under the law, when the same is highlighted to us. The issue was notified to us and we are currently investigating it,” the spokesperson had said.

On November 20, Madhya Pradesh Police registered a case against executives of the ecommerce giant under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance (NDPS) Act. 

The case was registered under Section 38 of the NDPS Act, which pertains to the role of companies and their management in an offence related to narcotic substances.

Speaking to Inc42, Manoj Kumar Singh, the then Superintendent of Police of Bhind District, had said that the case has been registered against the Board of Directors of Amazon Seller Services Pvt Ltd (ASSL), an Amazon India subsidiary. The FIR, however, does not mention any name, he added.

Later, Visakhapatnam Police had arrested four people in relation to the ongoing investigation of the online sale of marijuana through the Amazon India platform.

The four people arrested include three delivery executives of the ecommerce major.

In a press note, Bhind Police, Madhya Pradesh, which first revealed the trail of marijuana sales through Amazon, said that four people were arrested in the matter.

The matter came to light on November 14th, 2021, when the local police arrested two people for selling marijuana in Bhind. According to the police, they were using the Amazon India platform to procure and sell those products, following which they summoned the local manager of the ecommerce behemoth in Gwalior.

The police had also procured around 21 kilograms of ‘ganja’ (marijuana) from them and said that the transaction trail showed that they had sourced and transacted about 1 tonne (1,000 KG) of the product worth INR 1.1 Cr so far on Amazon.