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The person accused of an offence punishable under the act cannot be released on bail until the court is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing that he is not guilty of such offence: The High Court of Sikkim

Section 18(1) of the Sikkim Anti-Drugs Act where the learned Public Prosecutor opposes the application for bail the person accused of an offence punishable under the act cannot be released on bail until the court is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing that he is not guilty of such offence and that he is not likely to commit any offence while on bail. In the Hon’ble High Court of Sikkim led through the single-bench by Justice Bhaskar Raj Pradhan in the matters of Pratik Biswakarma v/s State of Sikkim[BAIL APPLN./12/2021].

The facts of the case are Pratik Biswakarma has moved this application for bail under Section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. He was arrested on 18.02.2021 in connection with the First Information Report (FIR) lodged on 18.02.2021 after the seizure of controlled substances from the vehicle in which he and five others were travelling.

The counsel from the applicant submits that besides the FIR he has not been implicated by any of the materials or statements filed along with the charge-sheet. It is submitted that he has no past criminal record; he is a young man of 23 years and therefore, he should be granted bail.

The learned Public Prosecutor, however, opposes the grant of bail on the ground that there is no material to reflect that he is not guilty of the offence. The prosecution against the applicant is under section 9(1) (c) and 9(4) of Sikkim Anti-Drugs Act, 2006 (SADA) read with section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC).

Section 18 of the Sikkim Anti-Drugs Act, 2006 provides for (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 – (a) every offence punishable under this Act shall be cognizable; (b) no person accused of an offence punishable under this Act shall be released on bail or on his own bond unless – (i) the Public Prosecutor has been heard and also given an opportunity to oppose the application for such release, and (ii) where the Public Prosecutor opposes the application, the court is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing that he is not guilty of such offence and that he is not likely to commit any offence while on bail. (2) The limitations on granting of bail specified in clause (b) of sub-section (1) are in addition to the limitations under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 or any other law for the time being in force on granting of bail.”

The High Court of Sikkim concluded, “Under section 18(1) of the SADA where the learned Public Prosecutor opposes the application for bail the person accused of an offence punishable under the act cannot be released on bail until the court is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing that he is not guilty of such offence and that he is not likely to commit any offence while on bail.”

The court directed “This court has examined the records of the case and it is of the firm view that there are no reasonable grounds for believing that the applicant is not guilty of such offence and that he is not likely to commit any offence while on bail.

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