Incarcerated for 8 years for an offence punishable with minimum 10 years imprisonment: Violation of Right to Personal Liberty and Right to Speedy Trial? Del HC answers

Delhi High Court: Subramonium Prasad, J., remarked that,

“…achievement of universal equality before the law requires the tenets of personal liberty to be applicable to all similarly circumstanced individuals and must not be restricted unless according to procedure established by law.”

A petition under Section 439 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 sought interim bail in an FIR registered under Sections 468, 471, 201 of the Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) and Sections 20, 29 of the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS).

Background


One Danveer was involved in an illegal interstate supply of drugs to foreigners in various states in India for the purpose of rave parties. Hence raid was conducted. Charas/hasish of total weight 2.210 kgs was found.

In view of the above, the petitioner was arrested, and first bail application was moved by the petitioner before the trial court and the same was dismissed, later the second application was also dismissed. Further, even the third bail application was dismissed.

Petitioner approached this Court by way of interim petition for interim bail. This Court had converted the instant interim bail application into one for regular bail.

Analysis, Law and Decision


High Court referred to the Supreme Court decision in Supreme Court Legal Aid Committee v. Union of India, (1994) 6 SCC 731, wherein the petition had been instituted with the aim to ensure that undertrial prisoners who had been languishing in jail for an extended period of time were granted bail despite the stringency of the provisions for bail under the NDPS Act. The underlying reason for the same was to uphold the right to personal liberty and the right to speedy trial of an undertrial under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

In view of the above Supreme Court decision, it was categorically noted that,

“…where an undertrial accused has been charged with offence(s) under the NDPS Act which is punishable with minimum imprisonment of ten years and a minimum fine of rupees one lakh, then such an undertrial is to be released if he has been in jail for not less than five years.”

Further, the Bench expressed that,

“It is unconscionable to state that the rights guaranteed under Article 21 can be subjected to such arbitrary categorisation and would not apply across the board to all undertrials in NDPS cases who are at the receiving end of inordinate delay in trial.”

High Court opined that the petitioner was entitled to release on account of inordinate delay in trial and prolonged judicial custody.

“Right to speedy trial is an intrinsic part of Article 21 of the Constitution of India.”

Further, the High Court added that the Courts must remain cognizant of the deleterious impact of drugs on society, it is also important to keep in mind that deprivation of personal liberty without the assurance of speedy trial contravenes the principles enshrined in our Constitution.

The Bench found the present case fit for granting bail, subject to the following conditions:

a)  The Petitioner shall furnish a personal bond in the sum of Rs 1,00,000 with two sureties of the like amount, one of them should be the relative of the Petitioner, to the satisfaction of the Trial Court;

b)  The Petitioner is directed to deposit his passport with the Trial Court.

c)  The Petitioner is directed to reside in Delhi till further orders and the address shall be verified by the learned Trial Court at the time of acceptance of bail bonds.

d)  The Petitioner shall report to the concerned Police Station twice in a week, that is, on every Wednesday and Friday at 10:30 AM, and the Police is directed to release him by 11:00 AM after recording his presence and completion of all the necessary formalities;

e)  The Petitioner shall not leave NCT of Delhi without the prior permission of the trial Court;

f)  The Petitioner is directed to give all his mobile numbers to the Investigating Officer and keep them operational at all times;

g)  The petitioner shall not, directly or indirectly, tamper with evidence or try to influence the witnesses in any manner;

h)  In case it is established that the petitioner has indulged in similar kind of offences or tried to tamper with the evidence, the bail granted to the petitioner shall stand cancelled forthwith.

In view of the above observations, the application was disposed of. [Anil Kumar v. State, 2022 SCC OnLine Del 778, decided on 21-3-2022]


Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioner:

Mr. Rajinder Singh and Mr. Piyush Gupta, Ms. Himanshi Batheja, Advocates.

For the Respondent:

Mr. Amit Chadha, APP for the State with SI Thakur Singh, PS Special Cell

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