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Punjab and Haryana High Court Grants Default Bail to NDPS Accused Amidst FSL Report Debate

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Published on: November 21, 2023 at 03:53 IST

The Punjab and Haryana High Court recently awarded default bail to three individuals accused in a narcotics case due to the absence of the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) report accompanying the police’s charge sheet.

Justice Vikas Suri acknowledged the ongoing debate on whether a chargesheet filed without an FSL report in cases under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS Act) can be deemed incomplete. This question is currently under consideration by a Full Bench of the High Court and the Supreme Court.

Despite this, Justice Suri granted default bail, considering that the accused had spent over nine months in jail. The Supreme Court’s decision in Arif Khan v. State (Govt. of NCT of Delhi), where default bail was granted in a similar scenario, was cited in support.

The High Court clarified that the prosecution could challenge the bail order if the Full Bench or the Supreme Court rules in favor of the prosecution regarding the larger question of the chargesheet’s completeness without the FSL report.

The case involved an NDPS matter in Faridabad, where the police submitted the final report to the trial court on April 28. The trial court denied statutory default bail to the accused, prompting the appeal to the High Court.

The crucial issue considered was whether the accused could claim the right to seek statutory bail when the chargesheet lacked the FSL report.

The prosecution argued that the chargesheet’s filing without the FSL report did not render it incomplete.

Justice Suri noted a previous High Court ruling that an accused is entitled to default bail if the chargesheet lacks an FSL report, as reaffirmed in a 2021 ruling. However, a reference made in September 2020 on the completeness of such chargesheets was pending before a larger bench of the High Court, and the matter was also under consideration by the Supreme Court.

After reviewing various judgments, the Court decided that the accused deserved the concession of default bail, given their more than nine months in custody.

Case Title: Taswwar Khan v. State of Haryana