Highly improbable that a person would carry identity proof together with contraband, is upheld by the High Court of Himachal Pradesh through the learned Judge JUSTICE SANDEEP SHARMA, in the case of Ankit Ashok Nisar & Ors v. State of Himachal Pradesh, (CRIMINAL MISC. PETITION(MAIN) NO. 957 OF 2022).
Brief facts of the case:
A bail application for violations of Sections 20 and 29 of the Controlled Substances Act was submitted in accordance with Section 439 of the Criminal Procedure Code. According to the prosecution, the defendants were in possession of luggage when the police conducted a random search of a Volvo bus. The defendants then claimed they were given the luggage to deliver to an individual in Delhi by a third party. While acknowledging the factum concerning the filing of challan in the competent court of law, they argued that the current bail petitioner does not deserve mercy because the identification documents of both of the accused were found in the bag carrying the contraband.
The bus driver and conductor both gave contradictory accounts of what happened. The Court said this casts significant doubt on the feasibility of removing the illegal goods from the petitioner’s custody. Inconsistencies between the prosecution’s claim and the fard/recovery memo were also discovered.
Although both witnesses confirm signing the recovery document, the Court notes that they testified that their signatures were collected on blank paper. They were ultimately permitted to board the bus because of the overwhelming influence of the vehicle’s other passengers.
The current bail petitioner and co-accused moved some sum to a cafe-owner in Himachal, Madhya Pradesh, according to bank transactions recorded by the prosecution. The Court did remark, however, that the bail petitioners’ assertion that they own a travel agency, event planning company, and tour company is not sufficient evidence of any conspiracy on their part.According to the Court, the strictness of Section 37 applies where there are allegations of trafficking in commercial quantities of illegal goods. The Court did point out that it was possible to infer from a cursory reading of Section 37 of the Act that bail might be granted in circumstances involving commercial quantities. Instead, if the court is certain that the accused has been wrongly implicated and that there is little probability of his partaking in such activities again during the trial, it may issue bail in instances involving commercial amount after giving the public prosecutor an opportunity to be heard.
The status report shows that there are currently no additional Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act holds lodged against the bail petitioner, and there is no cause to suspect that recovery is improbable. A person is presumed innocent under the law unless their guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt, as stated in previous judicial decisions cited. There is nothing left to be retrieved from the bail petitioner, thus keeping him locked up for an indeterminate period while the trial serves no useful purpose. The Court determined that, absent exceptional circumstances, the standard procedure is to grant bail rather than incarceration. In Prasanta Kumar Sarkar v. Ashis Chatterjee, the Supreme Court outlined several criteria that must be met before a bail hearing can be held, including the existence of a “prima facie case,” the specific nature of the crime, the severity of the punishment at stake, the likelihood of the accused committing the crime again, and the possibility of tainted testimony.
JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY – HARILAKSHMI