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P&H HC Reiterates Bail Cannot be Approved Solely on Basis of Duration of Custody in NDPS Matter

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punjab and haryana high court Law Insider

Shashwati Chowdhury

Published on: August 8, 2022 at 18:42 IST

A recent case involving the recovery of 120 grammes of heroin and drug money under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS), 1985, resulted in the Punjab and Haryana High Court denying regular bail to an accused.

Based on the Supreme Court’s decision in NCB v. Mohit Aggarwal, the Bench comprising of Justice Avneesh Jhingan held that the custody period alone cannot be a ground for granting bail and that Section 37 of the Act should be also keep in mind while examining t he bail application.

In Mohit Aggarwal, a three-judge Bench comprised of Chief Justice NV Ramana, Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli held that the length of the custody period or the fact that the charge-sheet has been filed and the trial has begun are not by themselves reasons that can be viewed as persuasive grounds for granting relief to the respondent under Section 37 of the NDPS Act .

According to information received, the petitioner and the other defendant were arrested in November 2020, and 120 gms of heroin and Rs. 60,000 in drug money were found in their possession. A firearm and a commercial amount of heroin were also found in the Border region at the accused’s instance.

The court noted that the claim made by the petitioner’s learned attorney that the car was apprehended after sundown and without authorisation will be the subject of a trial.

In addition to the items recovered from their possession, the Court stated that more than 3 kilogs of heroin and a weapon were also found at the instance of the accused.

Given the seriousness of the allegations against the defendant, the Court noted that, in accordance with Section 37 of the Act, in order to grant bail in a case involving commercial quantities of contraband, the court must be convinced that the defendant is innocent and unlikely to commit any crimes while free on bail.

The Court concluded that it could not be inferred prima-facie that the petitioner, who is involved in four other instances under the NDPS Act, is not likely to commit any offences while on bail, given the facts and circumstances of the particular case.

As a result, the Court dismissed the instant petition.