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No straightjacket formula for grant of bail in drug seizure cases: HC

Section 37 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act creates a bar on grant of bail in drug cases. However, in view of delay in the trial, the single judge had referred the issue to larger bench saying whether, despite the bar, bail can be granted, where trial is pending for long.

punjab Updated: Nov 27, 2017 14:36 IST
Surender Sharma
Surender Sharma
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
straightjacket formula,grant of bail,drug seizure
The single judge had sought to know whether similar parameters can also be applied in such cases where accused are languishing in jail for a considerable period of three years or four years after their arrest, and trial has not been concluded.(Representative image )

The Punjab and Haryana high court has said that no straightjacket formula can be laid down for grant of bail in drug seizure cases where trial has been pending for long.

The division bench of justice MMS Bedi and justice AG Masih with a reference to a single-judge bench said, “..facts and circumstances of each case would warrant different consideration in each case for exercise of judicial discretion for grant of bail.”

The reference was made in the case of one Lawar Singh, a Sirsa resident from whom the police had allegedly recovered 125 bags of poppy-husk weighing 4,400 kg and was allegedly found giving directions to load it from the truck to tractor trolleys and his car. He was arrested on August 7, 2013, but five co-accused ran away from the spot.

The state, as well as the petitioner, had argued before the division bench that the discretion to grant bail is always that of the court concerned, after considering the facts and circumstances of each case.

A challan was filed on January 6, 2014 and charges were framed on July 23, 2015. Till August 4, 2017, when reference was made, of the 26 witnesses, prosecution had examined only nine.

The petitioner had sought bail, arguing that he had been in custody for the past more than four years, but trial had not concluded. The prosecution, on the other hand, had argued that the delay in concluding evidence had occurred due to the non-arrest of two co-accused, who have now been declared proclaimed offenders (POs).

Section 37 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act creates a bar on grant of bail in drug cases. However, in view of delay in the trial, the single judge had referred the issue to larger bench saying whether, despite the bar, bail can be granted, where trial is pending for long.

The single judge had taken note of a judgment “Daler Singh versus state of Punjab”, in which a high court bench had observed that the non-listing of appeal of a drug seizure case convict for a considerable period should not be an impediment to the grant of bail. The single judge had sought to know whether similar parameters can also be applied in such cases where accused are languishing in jail for a considerable period of three years or four years after their arrest, and trial has not been concluded.

The state, as well as the petitioner, had argued before the division bench that the discretion to grant bail is always that of the court concerned, after considering the facts and circumstances of each case.

First Published: Nov 27, 2017 14:34 IST