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Personal liberty of a person cannot be curtailed for the purpose of assuring the arrest of the accused: High Court of Himachal Pradesh

A person who is not involved in an offence and has no antecedents to the offence committed, but has provided shelter to the accused and not brought him before the police, cannot be treated the same as the main accused and the liberty of such a person cannot be curtailed for the purpose of arresting the main accused. This was decreed by the Hon’ble court of Himachal Pradesh by Hon’ble Justice Sri Vivek Singh Thakur in the case of Raj Kumar Vs. State of Himachal Pradesh [Cr.M.P. (M) No. 946 of 2021] on the 7th of July 2021.

The brief facts of the case are, the respondent-State recovered and seized a truck of 200 Kg of poopy straw from a truck and 150 Kg of poppy straw from a sand pit on 11.2.2021. The accused persons were arrested on 19.2.2021. During the investigation, it was revealed that Parveen Kumar, son-in-law of the petitioner was the main accused. On 15.02.2021, the wife of the accused was informed about this and was asked to held with the investigation. However, on the same day the accused with his wife and family fled to Uttar Pradesh to reside at the petitioner’s house. The local police reached the house of the petitioner to arrest the accused only to find that the accused and his wife were sent to Rajasthan by the petitioner and his wife instead of submitting him at the police station. Since the petitioner did not cooperate with the police legally, the petitioner was arrested asper section 27A of the NDPS Act and Section 212 of the Indian Penal Code. The petitioner after remaining in Police custody on his arrest on 6.3.2021, is in judicial custody since 15.3.2021. The present petition has been filed to release the petitioner on bail.

The counsel for the respondent-state submits that the accused was harbored by the petitioner and his wife despite the knowledge of the fact that the accused was involved in a serious offence. It was also brought to the notice of the court that Rakesh Kumar, brother of Parveen Kumar, since 15.2.2021, had been informing father-in-law and mother-in-law of Parveen Kumar to produce Parveen Kumar before Police. Despite this, the petitioner continued to shelter the accused and also helped him move to Rajasthan and did not cooperate with the police. The counsel for the petitioner contended that he had harbored his son-in- law in his house, whereas the fact is that petitioner was not knowing about involvement of his son-in-law in commission of offence under NDPS Act, as alleged by prosecution and he had not harbored his son-in-law as an accused, but due to ignorance about his involvement in the offence, he had permitted his family to stay in his house, who had left the house before arrival of the Police without informing anybody and, therefore, it is stated that it was not possible for the petitioner to trace his son-in-law. It was also submitted that the petitioner was being implicated to create pressure on the accused to surrender. It was also noticed that the accused had applied for an anticipatory bail which was dismissed by the trial court. The counsel for the petitioner further submits that the petitioner is ready to disclose information as and when it comes to his knowledge and is also ready to furnish local surety.

The learned judge heard both the counsels and decreed that “I am of the opinion that in present case, petitioner can be treated differently than the other main accused. The petitioner has no antecedents regarding commission of offence under NDPS Act. Considering principles and factors relevant to be considered at the time of deciding bail application with reference to entire facts and circumstances of the case, nature and gravity of offence alleged to be committed by petitioner, I am of the opinion, that at this stage, petitioner is entitled to be enlarged on bail”.

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