In long custody cases, being named in multiple NDPS FIRs no reason to deny bail: HC - Hindustan Times
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In long custody cases, being named in multiple NDPS FIRs no reason to deny bail: HC

By, Chandigarh
Oct 08, 2023 08:48 AM IST

The Supreme Court, while dealing with Section 37 of the NDPS Act, had held that before granting bail, the court has to have “reasonable grounds” for believing that the accused is “not guilty” of the offence that they have been charged with and that they are unlikely to commit an offence under NDPS Act again while on bail

In a significant judgment, the Punjab and Haryana high court has held that allegations of involvement of an accused in several drugs cases cannot be grounds to deny bail where the custody period is “very long”.

Section 37 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act bars bail to a person booked in a case of seizure of commercial quantity. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Section 37 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act bars bail to a person booked in a case of seizure of commercial quantity. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

“…this court is of the view that the bar contained under Section 37 of the NDPS Act will not apply to the petitioner especially in light of Article 21 of the Constitution of India (protection of personal liberty),” the bench of justice JS Puri said, while granting bail to one Ram Chander.

Section 37 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act bars bail to a person booked in a case of seizure of commercial quantity.

The Supreme Court, while dealing with Section 37 of the NDPS Act, had held that before granting bail, the court has to have “reasonable grounds” for believing that the accused is “not guilty” of the offence that they have been charged with and that they are unlikely to commit an offence under NDPS Act again while on bail.

The second condition is granting the opportunity to the public prosecutor to oppose the bail. A person’s alleged involvement in multiple cases goes against their case of securing bail, as prosecution often argues that after coming out of jail, the person will again indulge in drugs supply.

In the case in hand, the petitioner, Ram Chander, was named as accused in the FIR after alleged drug seizure from his car on December 16, 2019, by the Narcotics Control Bureau, Chandigarh.

The bureau had recovered 4.8 kg opium and 500 gm charas, which would constitute as commercial quantity, from a concealed place in his car’s door. Chander was the owner of the car, but not driving it. The co-accused driver has already been released on the bail. Challan was presented on December 18, 2020, and trial is underway.

The petitioner had applied for bail, submitting that almost two years and nine months had passed after framing of charges and till date only one prosecution witness had been examined in full and four partially, and there is no justification for delay in trial.

NCB had argued that the petitioner was a habitual offender and involved in two more cases under the NDPS Act. Besides, the confiscated quantity of the contraband fell in the category of commercial quantity. The prayer for bail is hit by the bar contained under Section 37 of the NDPS Act, the bureau said.

The court observed that there was every possibility that the trial will be delayed and the petitioner had already faced incarceration for three years and nine months.

The court allowed the bail taking note of the facts of the case and a recent SC judgment, wherein it was held that prolonged incarceration generally militates against the most precious fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution, and in such a situation, the conditional liberty must override the statutory embargo created under Section 37 of the NDPS Act.

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