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Under What Conditions Can Ban For Granting Bail Continue For An Offence Under NDPS Act: Andhra Pradesh High Court Reiterates Supreme Court’S Position In Light Of S. 37 NDPS Act

Mridul Gupta ,
  25 May 2022       Share Bookmark

Court :
The Hon'ble Andhra Pradesh High Court
Brief :

Citation :
2020 SCC OnLine AP 966

CAUSE TITLE:
Chipurupalli Dali Naidu V. State of Andhra Pradesh

DATE OF JUDGEMENT:
21 September 2020

JUDGE(S):
The Honourable Mr. Justice M. Satyanarayana Murthy

PARTIES:
Petitioner(s): Chipurupalli Dali Naidu
Respondent(s): State of Andhra Pradesh

SUBJECT

This petition was filed to enlarge the petitioner on bail in connection with for the offence punishable under Section 20(b)(c) read with 8(c) of the NDPS Act. Earlier, the petitioner filed Criminal Petition before the High Court seeking his release on bail. The Court dismissed the petition on merits.

IMPORTANT PROVISION

The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (hereinafter as The NDPS Act)

Section 37: Offences to be cognizable and non-bailable

The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (hereinafter as The Cr.P.C.)

Section 439: Special powers of High Court or Court of Session regarding bail.

OVERVIEW

  • A.1 and A.2 were the driver and cleaner of the lorry that belonged to A.3. The Sub-Inspector of Police apprehended A.4 and A.5 after receiving credible information and recording their comprehensive confessional statements in the presence of mediators. Both of the defendants had admitted to their involvement in the crime. A.4 and A.5 admitted that they committed these crimes on the orders of A.6, for monitory gain of Rs. 30,000/-. In the presence of mediators, the Sub-Inspector of Police seized A.5's smart phone for the purpose of investigation.
  • A.6 was introduced as an additional accused based on the confessional testimonies of A.4 and A.5. Following that, the petitioner/A.4 was remanded to judicial custody for the offence punishable under the NDPS Act, 1985.

ISSUE

Under what conditions can ban for granting bail continue for an offence under NDPS Act?

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE PETITIONER(S)

  • The main contention of petitioner/A.4 was that nothing was retrieved from him, despite the fact that he was a Visakhapatnam native. Whereas A.1 and A.2 were discovered smuggling Ganja in the said lorry in violation of the NDPS Act, an offense punishable under Section 20(b)(c) read with Section 8(c) of the NDPS Act. The petitioner/A.4 stated that he was solely implicated in the commission of the offence for monitory purposes.

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENT(S)

  • It was claimed that there was no question that no contraband was seized from petitioner/A.4. However, the petitioner/A.4 was the main accused, as he was driving the lorry driven by A.1 and A.2. However, according to the evidence, the investigation in this case had not yet been completed, and A.6 had not yet been apprehended. However, based on the phone data, the police were able to track him down. The investigating agency was still required to collect evidence relating to the petitioner/A.4's involvement in the alleged offence. If the petitioner/A.4 was freed on bail, it would be possible that he would interfere with the ongoing inquiry.

JUDGEMENT ANALYSIS

  • The Court could not enlarge the petitioner/A.4 on bail as a matter of course unless the requirement under Section 37 of the NDPC Act, 1985 was met, in light of the law declared by the Apex Court in Satpal Singh v. State Of Punjab [(2018) 13 SCC 813] and Union of India v. Ram Samujh [(1999) 9 SCC 429] wherein it was held that the design of Section 37 demonstrates that the exercise of the power to grant bail was subject not only to the constraints contained in Section 439 of the Cr.P.C., but also to the limitations imposed by Section 37.The operative part of the aforementioned section is in the negative form, requiring the expansion of bail for anyone suspected of committing an offence under the Act unless two conditions were met. The first criterion is that the prosecution be given an opportunity to object to the application, and the second is that the Court be satisfied that there were reasonable grounds to believe he was not guilty of such offence. If either of these two conditions were not met, the ban on granting bail operates.
  • The phrase "reasonable grounds" indicated more than just prima facie grounds. It considers substantial probable grounds to believe that the accused was not guilty of the alleged crime. The clause contemplated reasonable belief required the existence of evidence and circumstances sufficient in themselves to justify satisfaction that the accused was not guilty of the alleged offence.

CONCLUSION

  • In the case at hand, the High Court had completely overlooked the underlying purpose of Section 37, which stated that, in addition to the limitations provided under the Cr.P.C. or any other law currently in force regulating the grant of bail, the High Court's liberal approach to bail under the NDPS Act was indeed uncalled for.
  • The Court found no ground to enlarge the petitioner/A.4 on bail. Consequently, Criminal Petition was dismissed.

Click here to know more about NDPS Act.

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

 
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