The Punjab and Haryana High Court recently held that on account of delay in the conclusion of trial, rigors of Section 37 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act can be relaxed to an extent and prayer of the accused for bail can be considered despite that she was found in possession of a commercial quantity of contraband.
Section 37 bars grant of bail to persons accused of an offence punishable for offences under section 19 or section 24 or section 27A of the Act and also for offences involving commercial quantity.
In the instant case, the petitioner-accused was the owner of the car from which 500 Grams of Heroin was recovered. She had been in custody since August 2019 and only three out of 32 witnesses were examined so far.
It was also contended that petitioner is of the age of 37 years and her husband has already expired because of which the burden of taking care of her young children falls upon her.
"Therefore, the rigors of Section 37 of the NDPS Act can be relaxed to an extent and the prayer of the accused for grant of bail can be considered despite the fact that she has been found in possession of commercial quantity of contraband," a bench comprising Justice Jasjit Singh Bedi said.
It relied on Chitta Biswas @ Subhas Vs. The State of West Bengal, Amit Singh Moni Vs. State of Himachal Pradesh and judgment of this court in Vipan Sood Vs. State of Punjab & Anr. CRMM-20177-2020(O&M) where the concession of regular bail was granted by the Supreme Court in cases where the accused had undergone a substantial period of custody.
A perusal of the aforementioned judgments would show that the Hon'ble Supreme Court has also considered and granted the concession of regular bail in cases where the accused has undergone a substantial period of custody despite the rigors of Section 37 of the NDPS Act, the High Court noted.
Accordingly, without commenting on the merits of the case, the Court allowed her bail plea with a note of caution that if the petitioner indulges in a similar offense again, the State would be at liberty to move an application for cancellation of bail.
Case Title : Ghanso @ Kalo v. State of Punjab
Citation : 2022 LiveLaw (PH) 136