Grant of bail on account of delay in trial cannot be said to be fettered by embargo u/s 37 of NDPS Act: Delhi High Court grants bail to woman selling drugs over dark net
Justice Amit Mahajan [20-05-2024]




LE Correspondent


New Delhi, June 11, 2024: While observing that the applicant cannot be made to spend the entire period of trial in custody especially when the trial is likely to take considerable time, the Delhi High Court has granted bail to a woman accused of conducting illegal trade of contraband through the ‘dark net’ and social media platforms for monetary benefit.


This case under the NDPS Act, 1985 pertains to the year 2021 when on the basis of secret information, a raid was conducted at the house of co-accused Shakti Agarwal’s friend, where he was staying temporarily at that time. A recovery of 605 LSD Blots, 79 g of Hashish, 1.6 g of Cocaine and 18 g of MDMA was made from the bag of co-accused Shakti. The Co-accused had disclosed that he had gotten addicted to drugs and then started selling drugs to support himself. He confessed that he purchased drugs through Wicker and Telegram. He disclosed the name of co-accused persons, namely, Jasbir, Dibyas and Rajat, and their involvement in the commission of the crime as well.


During investigation, consequent upon the recovery of the contrabands and on the basis of the statements of the co-accused Shakti, production warrants were issued against the applicant and co-accused Jasbir, who were both lodged in Tihar Jail in another case under the NDPS Act. The applicant was thereafter arrested in the present case on 25.09.2021.


It was the case of the prosecution that the LSD Blots recovered from co-accused Shakti were ordered by co-accused Jasbir, the applicant and co-accused Raghunath. Consequently, more recoveries of 36 LSD Blots, 1.230 kg of Ecstasy (MDMA) pills and 13g of contraband (magic mushroom believed to be the psychotropic substance psilocybin) were made. 

One co-accused Jasbir in his disclosure statement admitted his involvement in the NDPS offences and further stated that he had dealt with co-accused Sarvothaman on behalf of the applicant. He stated that he along with the applicant and co-accused Parichay Arora was involved in the drug business through the “dark net”. It was alleged that the applicant admitted in her disclosure statement about her involvement in distribution of the contrabands and stated that she used to receive payments for the same through UPI on several bank accounts controlled by her. She had allegedly endorsed her signatures on incriminating printouts taken from her darknet account as well. 


The Single-Judge Bench of Justice Amit Mahajan noticed that the case of the prosecution was essentially based upon the disclosure statement of the co-accused persons and the applicant.  To elaborate on this aspect, the Bench relied upon the judgment in Tofan Singh v. State of Tamil Nadu [LQ/SC/2020/754] and said, “ It is relevant to note that while the veracity of the disclosure statements is to be tested at the time of the trial, this Court cannot lose sight of the decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Tofan Singh v. State of Tamil Nadu (supra), wherein it was held that a disclosure statement made under Section 67 of the NDPS Act is impermissible as evidence without corroboration.


It was further opined that no incriminating recovery had been effectuated from the applicant in the present case. The Bench noted that the charges were yet to be framed in the present case. Speedy trial in such circumstances did not seem to be a possibility. “The object of jail is to secure the appearance of the accused persons during the trial. The object is neither punitive nor preventive and the deprivation of liberty has been considered as a punishment without the guilt being proved. The applicant cannot be made to spend the entire period of trial in custody especially when the trial is likely to take considerable time. It is trite law that grant of bail on account of delay in trial cannot be said to be fettered by the embargo under Section 37 of the NDPS Act”, the Bench said.


Considering the fact that the applicant is in custody since 04.09.2021, the Bench placed reliance upon the judgment in Man Mandal & Anr. v. The State of West Bengal : SLP(CRL.) No. 8656/2023 wherein the petitioner was granted bail in an FIR for offences under the NDPS Act, on the ground that the accused had been incarcerated for a period of almost two years and the trial was likely going to take a considerable amount of time.

It was further noticed that the co-accused persons, namely, Sarvothaman Guhan, Rahul Mishra, Asray Panday, Jasbir Singh, Naman Sharma, Dixita Golwala, Devesh Vasa, Mohd. Aslam and Vishal Chaturvedi, had been enlarged on bail in the present case.


Thus, the Bench directed the applicant to be released on bail on furnishing a personal bond for a sum of Rs. 50,000 with two sureties of the like amount, subject to the satisfaction of the Trial Court.

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