The Bombay high court recently granted bail to a woman who was arrested with 430 grams of mephedrone — a narcotic substance also known as MD — solely because she was searched by a woman constable in front of men after she was held.
“The woman was searched in front of men. This violates section 50 (4) of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985,” said justice AS Gadkari.
The judge said the section mandated that the police have regard for the privacy of a woman, which not honoured in this case. “The act requires that a woman be searched in seclusion, without any men present,” said the judge.
Justice Gadkari also granted bail to the woman’s accomplice, Shahid Choudhary, saying that he was searched by a constable, which violates section 42 of the NDPS Act. According to the Act, only police personnel holding a rank higher than that of a constable can search someone suspected of carrying narcotic substances. A notification issued by Maharashtra government also empowers head-constables to search suspects.
The woman and her accomplice were nabbed by the anti-narcotics cell of the Thane police on August 29, 2015.
Acting on a tip-off, ANC officials had laid a trap at Viviana Mall in Thane. The woman was caught with 430 grams of mephedrone, while police discovered that Choudhary allegedly had 100 grams of the same drug. Both of them were searched at the mall, in the presence of five witnesses.
The high court ordered that Choudhary and the woman be released on furnishing a bond of Rs50,000 each, with one or two sureties of the same amount from Mumbai, Thane or Palghar. They were also ordered to go to the anti-narcotic cell of the Thane police on the first Monday of every month. Two consecutive defaults will automatically cancel their bail.