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Mere Operation Of S.37 NDPS Act Does Not Disentitle Accused To Bail, Relief Should Be Granted If Reasonable Grounds Exist: JKL High Court Reiterates

Basit Amin Makhdoomi
25 Nov 2022 10:15 AM GMT
Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court, Refusal, Rape Victim Testimony, Absence, Corroboration, Insult, Injury, JKL High Court, Upholds Rape Conviction, Justice Rajnesh Oswal and Justice Mohan Lal,

The Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court recently reiterated that merely because Section 37 of the NDPS Act comes into play where commercial quantity of contraband is involved, it does not mean that the accused cannot be entitled to bail whatever may be the circumstances that may be borne out from the record.

Elaborating on the rigours prescribed under Section 37 NDPS Act, Justice Puneet Gupta observed that 'reasonable grounds' must be shown for believing that the accused is not guilty of offence under Section 19 or Section 24 or Section 27 and also for offences involving commercial quantity and is not likely to commit any offence while on bail.

"The mere severity of punishment under Section 8/22/29 NDPS Act should not weigh with the court if the circumstances placed on record do otherwise make out a case for bail in favour of the accused."

The bench was hearing a plea wherein the petitioner-accused sought bail in the complaint filed against him for offences under Section 8/22/29 NDPS Act.

The counsel appearing for the petitioner argued that except for the so called statement of the petitioner and the other accused Muzaffar Ahmed from whom the drug has been allegedly recovered by the respondent, there is no other evidence which connects the accused with the commission of offence. It was asserted that the statement of the petitioner recorded in terms of Section 67 of the NDPS Act has no legal force, therefore the respondent could not bank upon the same against the petitioner.

Agreeing with the submission, Justice Gupta referred to 'Toofan Singh vs. State of Tamil Nadu 2021 where the Supreme Court held that the statement recorded in terms of Section 67 of the NDPS Act cannot be used as a confessional statement in the trial of an offence under the Act as the officers who are vested with powers under Section 53 of the NDPS Act are police officers within the meaning of Section 25 of the Evidence Act.

"In view of the said verdict the statements by the accused persons recorded in terms of Section 67 of the NDPS Act cannot be the mere reason for disallowing the bail unless other circumstances also call for rejection of bail", the bench underscored.

Dealing with the contention of the respondents that call records of the mobile of both the accused confirm the fact that they were in constant touch with each other and deal in the sale and purchase of the contraband, the bench observed the call records of the mobiles will ultimately nail the petitioner-accused in the present case is a matter of trial and neet not be considered while hearing an application for bail.

It placed firm reliance on State by (NCB) Bengaluru vs. Pallulabid Ahmed Arimutta and another 2022 wherein the Supreme court refused to dismiss a bail application on the basis of call records and held that the same can be examined at the stage of trial.

Accordingly, the court allowed the application and the accused was granted bail subject to furnishing of two surety bonds and personal bond to the tune of Rs.1 lakh, each to the satisfaction of the trail court.

Case Title : Phool Chand Vs Narcotics Control Bureau.

Citation : 2022 LiveLaw (JKL) 217

Coram : Justice Puneet Gupta

Counsel For Petitioner : Mr Jagpaul Singh

Counsel For Respondent : Mr Sumant Sudan vice Mr Vishal Sharma DSGI

Click Here To Read/Download Order

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