Bail to be granted only if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the applicant is not guilty of such an offence: High Court of Himachal Pradesh

Bail application can be rejected by the court under section 37 of the NDPS act if there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the applicant is not guilty of the offence alleged against him/her. This was held by Ms. Justice Jyotsna Rewal Dua in the case of Abhishant Minhas Vs. State of Himachal Pradesh [Cr.MP(M) No.1198 of 2021] On the 8th of July in the Hon’ble High Court of Himachal Pradesh, Shimla.

The brief facts of the case are, on 23.6.2020, the police were patrolling a certain area where they noticed a car parked with four occupants. The police suspected this solitary parked vehicle and approached the vehicle and asked the reasons for parking the vehicle there. The answers received by the police raised suspicion and thus a search was conducted in accordance with law. During this search, heroin and ridley capsules were recovered from the car. The four persons identified themselves as, Sidhant Thakur (the driver), Samridhi Bedi occupying the front seat adjoining to the driver seat and Rajat & Abhishant Minhas (petitioner herein) occupying the back seat. Entire procedure contemplated under Code of Criminal Procedure as well as under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, Act was followed leading to registration of FIR in question. All the four accused persons were arrested on 24.06.2020. The present petition is filed for the purpose of seeking bail through the instant bail application.

The counsel for the petitioner submits that, the petitioner has been falsely implicated with the alleged offence. However, the Counsel for the respondent submitted that the psychotropic substance recovered from the vehicle was found to be in joint possession of all the four accused persons asper record. It was also submitted that the petitioner had 2 criminal antecedents relating to the Indian Penal Code and the POCSO act. It was also submitted that during the investigation, the petitioner revealed he was a Drug addict. The court to analyze whether the bail application must be accepted had to first determine whether the amount of substance recovered was ‘commercial quantity’. In the instant case, total weight of powder of recovered capsule was 600.600 grams. This weight exceeds 250 grams notified as commercial quantity of Tramadol under the NDPS Act. Therefore, rigors of Section 37 of the NDPS Act get attracted.

The learned judge relied on the judgement in State of Kerala Etc. Versus Rajesh Etc. AIR 2020 SC 721 wherein, the apex court held that, “To check the menace of dangerous drugs flooding the market, Parliament has provided that the person accused of offences under the NDPS Act should not be released on bail during trial unless the mandatory conditions provided in Section 37, namely, (i) there are reasonable grounds for believing that the accused is not guilty of such offence; and (ii) that he is not likely to commit any offence while on bail are satisfied.”

In the present case, it can be observed that, the contraband in possession was beyond the commercial quantity and the petitioner himself agreed that he was a drug addict. This proves that all the four accused persons were in joint possession of the said substance. Though, only one of the co-accused had purchased the contraband, it was supposed to be used by all four people. Thus, he is guilty of the offence since there are no other grounds to believe the contrary. Since the above-mentioned requirements of section 37 of the NDPS act have not been met, the bail application is rejected and the petition is dismissed.

Click here to read the judgement.

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