Tripura High Court: S.G. Chattopadhyay, J., rejected a bail application which was filed for releasing the accused on bail who had been undergoing imprisonment since 16-09-2021 under NDPS Act, 1985. Successive applications of the accused for pre-arrest bail were rejected.
Huge quantity of contraband including 100 bottles of Phensedyl in a carton, 4375 bottles of Phensedyl of different batch in different cartons, 300 bottles of Escaf cough syrup etc. were recovered from inside the vehicle of the accused which were hidden beneath the vegetables. During investigation accused, husband of the owner of the offending vehicle surrendered at the police station who was granted default bail by the Special Court.
Counsel appearing for the petitioner contends that the investigating agency has by this time laid charge sheet against the petitioner and therefore further detention of the petitioner would amount to pre trial detention which does not have the sanction of law. Counsel urges that the informant police officer has categorically asserted in his FIR that after the offending vehicle was intercepted and caught by the police patrolling party, there was only one person inside the vehicle who fled away from the place of occurrence and his identity could not also be established.
Counsel for the State contended that NDPS Act is a special statute and section 37 of the Act has imposed heavy restrictions on bail to an accused charged under the said statute.
The Court noted that in the present case, the substance recovered by the investigating agency is of huge quantity which is reported to be a psychotropic substance under the NDPS Act. Even though the accused has raised a plea that he was not involved in any manner in the alleged transportation of the contraband, such plea of the accused cannot be accepted at this stage in view of the materials available against him. The investigating agency has collected sufficient materials to prove his association with the offending vehicle as its driver. Wife of the co-accused has categorically asserted that the petitioner was a driver of her vehicle. Having denied his association with the offending vehicle, petitioner claimed that he left the job of driving the vehicle long back. The veracity of such statements can only be ascertained in the course of trial during the examination and cross examination of witnesses. An elaborate examination of evidence touching the merit of the case and a detailed exposition thereof would not be appropriate at this stage because such observations are likely to prejudice the accused petitioner in the course of trial.
The question which fell for consideration of this court was whether the accused has qualified the tests provided under section 37(1)(ii) of the NDPS Act.
The Court found that there was no scope for this court to hold that there were reasonable grounds for believing that the petitioner was not guilty of the charge of offence brought against him and he was not likely to commit any offence while on bail. The Court finally rejected the bail application.[Priya Lal Halder v. State of Tripura, 2022 SCC OnLine Tri 62, decided on 09-02-2021]
Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.
For Petitioner(s) : Mr B. Deb and Mr S. Rahman
For Respondent(s) : Mr R. Datta, P.P. Mr S. Debnath, Addl. P.P. and Mr S. Ghosh