InBail Appln. 148/2022 -DEL HC- No drugs recovered from accused in drug trafficking case, Delhi High Court grants bail
Justice Jasmeet Singh [18-09-2023]


Read Order:Mohd Aslam Chicko V. Narcotics Control Bureau Through its Director General


Chahat Varma


New Delhi, September 18, 2023: In a recent ruling, the Delhi High Court has granted bail to a 22-year-old student accused of drug trafficking.


The present bail application stemmed from an NCB case involving the alleged commission of offenses punishable under Sections 8(c), 20, 22, and 29 of the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act).


In summary, the applicant was accused of trafficking all kinds of drugs through a Telegram group called ‘Orient Express’.  He was also accused of being connected to two other accused persons and having several bank transactions with them for the buying and selling of contraband. The applicant was arrested on September 29, 2021 and remanded to judicial custody and the trial court had dismissed his application for bail.


The single-judge bench of Justice Jasmeet Singh observed that no drugs, contraband, or psychotropic substances were recovered from the applicant, either in person or from his house.


The bench cited the Supreme Court case of Mohd. Husain Umar Kochra Etc. v. K.S. Dalipsinghji and Anr. Etc. [LQ/SC/1969/150], in which the Supreme Court had held that the elements of conspiracy require a shared intent and coordinated action by all participants.


The bench said, “in order to establish the charge of abetment or conspiracy under section 29 of the NDPS Act, the prosecution must adduce independent, corroborative and affirmative legal evidence.”


The bench found that the NCB had not provided any evidence, such as mobile chats or call detail records, to show that the applicant was in contact with the other co-accused persons or was an active participant in the drug chain. The applicant had also provided a satisfactory explanation for the bank transactions between himself and the co-accused persons. Therefore, the NCB had not provided any prima facie evidence of abetment or conspiracy to show that the applicant was part of a criminal conspiracy.


The bench also found that all of the co-accused were separate individuals with isolated instances of recovery, therefore, the stringent level of scrutiny required under section 37 of the NDPS Act did not apply to the applicant.


The bench further noted that there was no evidence to show that the applicant was the owner or administrator of the 'Orient Express' Telegram Group. The bench also held that the alleged chats/conversations, in the absence of any recovery of contraband from the applicant, were not sufficient evidence to link the applicant to drug trafficking.


The bench stated that the only evidence against the applicant was that he had formed the Telegram group 'Orient Express.' This evidence was based on the applicant's alleged confessional statement and the disclosure statements of co-accused persons under Section 67 of the NDPS Act. However, the bench noted that confessional statements made under Section 67 of the NDPS Act were inadmissible in evidence.


Consequently, the bench held that the applicant has been in custody since October 1, 2021, which was almost two years. No contraband was recovered from him and he was not required for further investigation. The applicant was only 22 years old and was a student. The complaint was at the stage of arguments on charge and the trial was likely to take a considerably long time.


Therefore, the court allowed the applicant's bail application and granted him bail.

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