The Madhya Pradesh High Court, scrutinized the provisions under Section 18 NDPS Act, the Court opined that although the cultivation of poppy opium is a punishable offence, there is no corresponding entry of small quantity or commercial quantity in the Schedule. This was held in the case of KALLA MALLAH AND ORS. VERSUS THE STATE OF MADHYA PRADESH [CRIMINAL REVISION NO. 1933 OF 2021], The division bench comprised of Justice Rohit Arya and Justice Milind Ramesh Phadke.
FACTS OF THE CASE
On police raid, it is alleged, that four persons including the three petitioners were found to have been cultivating opium poppy on Government land. Accordingly, a case was registered against them for the offences punishable under Sections 8/16 of the NDPS Act and 70 quintals of opium poppy was seized.
The petitioners moved an application before the Special Court under Section 167(2)(a)(ii) of the Cr.P.C. read with Section 36(a)(4) of the NDPS Act seeking default bail. In this case as quantity of 70 quintals of opium poppy seized is a commercial quantity and 180 days’ period had not expired, therefore, the petitioners were not held entitled for default bail.
It is submitted that the terms ‘small quantity’ and ‘commercial quantity’ have legal connotations as defined in dictionary clause as sections 2(xxiiia) and 2(viia) respectively.
JUDGEMENT OF THE CASE
The Petitioners submitted before the division bench that their case fell within the net of Section 18(3) NDPS Act as Note 3 of the Schedule appended to the Act had not laid down the small and commercial quantity for opium poppy.
Hence, the assumption that 7,000 Kgs of opium poppy ought to be considered as commercial quantity was unsustainable in the eye of law. Thus, it was asserted that since their case falls within the ambit of Section 18(3) of the Act, wherein the punishment assigned is rigorous imprisonment is extendable to 10 years, they were eligible for default bail under Section 167(2)(a)(ii) CrPC.
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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY VYSHNAVI KRISHNAN.