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Reasons To Believe That The Applicant Is Not Guilty Is Required To Be Ascertained For Them To Be Granted Bail Under S. 37 Of NDPS Act

Yashvardhan Gullapalli ,
  21 July 2022       Share Bookmark

Court :
The Supreme Court of India
Brief :

Citation :
Criminal Appeal No. 1001-1002

Case Title:
Narcotics Control Bureau Vs Mohit Aggarwal

Date of Order:
19/07/2022

Bench:
CJI NV Ramana, Justice Krishna Murari, and Justice Hima Kohli

Parties:
Narcotics Control Bureau – Petitioners 
Mohit Aggarwal – Respondent

Subject 

The Supreme Court stated that "reasonable grounds" would indicate believable, reasonable justification for the Court to assume that the accused is not guilty of the alleged violation laid out under Section 37(1)(b) of the NDPS Act.The court further stated that, in accordance with Section 37 of the NDPS Act, a bail application cannot be accepted and passed on the basis that the accused's possessions were empty.In accordance with Section 37 of the NDPS Act, the length of the respondent's detention period or the charge sheet having been already submitted and the hearing has begun are not by themselves sufficient reasons to award relief to the respondent.

Facts 

  • The respondent-accused is being tried for an infringement against Sections 8/22 and 29 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, and the appellant-NCB is unhappy with the judgment and order issued by the High Court of Delhi on March 16, 2021, giving post-arrest bail to the accused.
  • A parcel ordered by Gaurav Kumar Aggarwal from Agra was tracked to a godown in the village of Samalkha where a large quantity of unbilled Tramadol tablets was found and seized. 
  • Gaurav Kumar Aggarwal claimed that he had ordered the package through a courier service to be delivered to Manoj Kumar, a resident of Ludhiana, Punjab, in accordance with Section 67 of the NDPS Act, and that he had bought the Tramadol tablets discovered during the investigation proceedings from the respondent herewith without a bill or prescription.
  • Following the revelation made by Gaurav Aggarwal in this document, the raiding team went to Promod Jaipuria's godown and performed a search there. During this search, a stash of drugs covered by the NDPS Act was discovered.
  • Before the erudite Special Judge, NDPS, he made two requests for the granting of bail. The appellant-NCB vigorously fought both of the aforementioned applications, which the Special Judge, NDPS, dismissed. The defendant filed an application under Section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 for the grant of bail after being upset by the order dated July 21, 2020, which denied his second bail application. This petition was granted by the impugned order made by the learned Single Judge of the High Court.

Arguments Forwarded by Petitioner 

  • Learned counsel appearing for the petitioner argued that the current case falls under the category of recovering commercial quantities of narcotic drugs and that the accused should not have been admitted to bail due to the embargo imposed by Section 37 of the NDPS Act. 
  • And this is a scenario of constructive/conscious possession of the prohibited substances because the accused was an active member of an organized gang that was using the drugs.
  • Finally, it was claimed that there was enough circumstantial evidence against the respondent to bar him from being granted to bail.

Arguments Forwarded by Respondent 

  • Learned counsel appearing for the respondent vigorously contested the current appeal and argued that the High Court was correct to grant bail after the respondent spent one year and three months in detention.
  • He stated that the respondent has not disregarded any of the terms and conditions of the bail that was imposed on him and that the impugned order was made after the respondent's attorney and the lawyer for the appellant-NCB were given a hearing.
  • It was argued that neither the shipment of narcotic substances registered by or for the defendant in the claimed event. Nothing was located during the search of the respondent's home and shop, and the respondent was not recovered. identifying the respondent as a modest drugstore owner in Agra

Judgment 

  • The bench observed that it is clear from a plain reading of the non-obstante clause added to subsection (1) and the conditions listed in subsection (2) of Section 37 that there are some limitations put in place to restrain the power of the Court when granting bail to a person suspected of having broken the NDPS Act.
  • The constraints established under paragraph (b) of sub-section (1) of Section 37 must be taken into consideration in addition to the constraints put under Section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
  • The requirements listed under Section 37's subsection (i) are that the Public Prosecutor must be given a chance to oppose the implementation for release made by the accused, and in (ii), if such an implementation is opposed, the Court must be convinced that there are grounds to believe the accused is innocent of the charge. In addition, the accused must demonstrate to the court that they are unlikely to break the law while out on bond.
  • The Court concurred with the High Court's position that, in light of the ruling in Tofan Singh v. State of Tamil Nadu (AIR 2020 SC 5592), the accused's confessions that he had illegally trafficked in drugs during his incarceration must be disregarded. The court did point out that it wasn't the only piece of evidence the NCB had used to deny the bail request.

Conclusion 

The Court opined in its assessment, that the facts of the current case do not satisfy the strict bail criteria set forth in Section 37 of the Act. In order for the respondent to have been granted bail, it is not yet safe to say that he has effectively shown that there are good reasons to believe that he is innocent of the charges brought against him. In accordance with Section 37 of the NDPS Act, the duration of the respondent's detention period or the circumstance that the charge sheet has been submitted and the trial has begun cannot be viewed in isolation as grounds for providing respite to the respondent.

Learn the practical aspects of CrPC HERE, CPC HERE, IPC HERE, Evidence Act HERE, Family Laws HERE, DV Act HERE

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