Delhi High Court: In a petition seeking regular bail for offences under Sections 8(c), 21(c), 23(c), 27(a), 29 of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance (‘NDPS’) Act, a single Judge Bench of Anish Dayal J., grants bail to the petitioner as there was reasonable grounds to believe that the petitioner’s guilt may not be proved and there was no material on record to show that he was likely to commit any offense while on bail.
BackgroundIt was alleged that the Petitioner intending to earn huge profits from smuggling heroin concealed in licorice roots (mulathi), hatched a conspiracy along with other accused persons to import a consignment from Afghanistan containing concealed heroin. It was further alleged that the petitioner received Rs.11 lacks in cash as an advance for the consignment. The custom officials seized contraband of 102.136 and 0.648 Kg imported in the name of a company which the petitioner was proprietor. The petitioner was accordingly arrested. The petitioner also informed the Court about being diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) – blood cancer and was under treatment since 2017.
The Court considered the material on record which suggested that the petitioner had clean antecedents, a reputation in the industry, and no apparent connection with other accused persons. The Court opined that the petitioner was entitled to be enlarged on bail subject to the conditions stated below:
Petitioner was not in the conscious possession of the contraband as despite being the consignee, the contraband was intercepted before it came to his possession, and it was held in the case of Union of India v. Mohd. Nawaz Khan, (2021) 10 SCC 100 that unless the possession was coupled with the requisite mental element, Section 20 cannot be attached.
Facts and circumstances prima facie reflect that the petitioner was merely acting as a trader and was consigning it at the commercial price and selling it to the named buyer, making reasonable profits.
There was no evidence to show the discussion regarding contraband between the petitioner and the Afghani exporter and it seems prima facie that the petitioner was just used as an intermediary.
Further, the acceptance of Rs. 11 lakhs in cash prima facie seemed to be in context of the regular trading deal.
Also, the petitioner had an established reputation in the industry as per certificates of appreciation from the multiple state authorities, unlikely to involve in large scale smuggling of contraband.
Lastly the petitioner was suffering from serious condition of blood cancer and required consistent medical attention.
On the basis of the prima facie assessment, facts and circumstances of the case, the Court said that there were reasonable grounds to believe that the petitioner’s guilt may not be proved and there was no material on record to show his chances of committing any offense while on bail.
Therefore, the Court expressed that as the trial matter is likely to take some time, it would not be prudent to keep the petitioner behind bars considering his medical condition.
[Vipin Mittal v. National Investigation Agency, 2023 SCC OnLine Del 3270, Decided on 30-05-2023]
Judgment by: Justice Anish Dayal
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For the Petitioners: Senior Advocate Siddharth Aggarwal, Advocate Nipun Katyal, Advocate Chaitanya;
For the Respondents: Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, Special Public Prosecutor Shilpi Singh, Additional Public Prosecutor Yudhvir Singh Chauhan.