Read Order: Manjinder Singh v. State of Punjab

Monika Rahar

Chandigarh, March 31, 2022: The Punjab and Haryana High Court has granted bail to an NDPS accused who was in custody for a period of more than 3 years and 3 months and was not involved in any other case. Also, in this case, only 5 out of 23 witnesses were examined so far. 

Thus, the Bench of Justice Vivek Puri held, “In these set of circumstances, the rigors of Section 37 of the NDPS Act can be relaxed and keeping in view the entire facts and circumstances emerging in the instant case, sufficient mitigating circumstances are made out to extend the concession of bail to the petitioner.”

The High Court was dealing with a regular bail plea of the accused-petitioner against whom an FIR under Sections 21/25/29 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, Section 25 of Arms Act and Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code, was registered. 

The police party received secret information to the effect that the petitioner and his co-accused were to come on a motorcycle for delivering heroin, arms and ammunition. The motorcycle was being driven by the petitioner and the co accused Basant Singh was sitting on the pillion and was carrying a backpack (pithu bag) from which 4 kgs and 230 grams of heroin were recovered. On seeing the Police Party, the co-accused fired from the pistol, however, the occupants of the motorcycle were apprehended.

On appreciating the rival submissions, the Court noted that the recovery of the contraband was effected from the bag being carried by the co-accused. The Court further observed that neither any contraband was recovered from the petitioner nor he fired upon the police party. Even no firearm was recovered from him, added the Court. 

Also, the Court observed that the petitioner was not the owner of the motorcycle and the recovery memo pertaining to the contraband only indicated the name of Basant Singh co-accused. The Court also noted that the petitioner was not substantially charged with regard to the offence under Section 21 of NDPS Act, 307 of Indian Penal Code and 25 and 27 of the Arms Act, rather the charge against him was with regard to the offence under Section 29 of the NDPS Act. On the allegation of the petitioner’s involvement in a conspiracy, the Court opined that it would be a debatable and moot point during the course of the trial.

Further, the Court made reference to the Supreme Court in Amit Singh Moni Vs. State of Himachal,Criminal Appeal No. 668 of 2020, wherein the bail was granted to the accused after he underwent incarceration for a period of about 2 years and 7 months and particularly when the trial was not progressing. 

Applying this to the present case, the Court held that even in the instant case, the petitioner was in custody for a period of more than 3 years and 3 months, not involved in any other case and furthermore, only 5, out of 23 witnesses have been examined so far. 

Thus, the Court held, “In these set of circumstances, the rigors of Section 37 of the NDPS Act can be relaxed and keeping in view the entire facts and circumstances emerging in the instant case, sufficient mitigating circumstances are made out to extend the concession of bail to the petitioner.”Accordingly, the bail plea was allowed. 

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