Case Title: Kenechukwu Joseph v. The State
Date of Decision: September 21, 2023
Case Number: BAIL APPLN. 352/2023
Coram: Hon’ble Mr. Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma
This case revolves around a bail application filed by Kenechukwu Joseph under Section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C.). The petitioner seeks bail in a case registered under Section 21(c) of the NDPS Act (Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act) and Section 14 of the Foreigners Act. The petitioner alleges that he was falsely implicated in a drug-related case and has been in custody since January 16, 2020.
On January 16, 2020, the special staff office received a secret tip-off regarding the transportation of narcotics substances. Acting on this information, a team was formed, and a trap was set near Hotel Radisson Blu, Paschim Vihar, Delhi. The petitioner, Kenechukwu Joseph, a Nigerian national residing in Delhi, was apprehended. During a search, a poly bag containing 140 grams of cocaine was found in his possession. Two samples of 5 grams each were extracted, and the remaining 130 grams were seized. Subsequently, the case was registered under the NDPS Act, and the investigation commenced.
The primary legal issue in this case revolves around the petitioner’s eligibility for bail under Section 37 of the NDPS Act, which pertains to offenses being cognizable and non-bailable.
The petitioner’s counsel argued that the petitioner was falsely implicated, citing discrepancies in the arrest location and contradictions in the prosecution’s version of events. They also raised concerns about tampering with the narcotics samples and the sealing of evidence. The petitioner had been in custody for over three years, and only a fraction of the witnesses had been examined, making a lengthy trial likely.
The state’s counsel opposed the bail application, asserting that the petitioner was found in possession of a commercial quantity of cocaine. They also highlighted the petitioner’s non-resident status and lack of a permanent address in India, raising concerns about potential absconding.
Observation and Analysis
The court observed that Section 37 of the NDPS Act imposes strict conditions for granting bail in cases involving commercial quantities of narcotics. It requires a court to be satisfied that the accused is not guilty and is unlikely to commit further offenses while on bail.
The court cited precedents indicating that procedural lapses, such as issues with sampling and sealing of evidence, should be assessed during trial, not during bail hearings. Non-compliance with these procedures may affect the probative value of evidence but does not automatically vitiate the trial.
Decision and Conclusion
The court concluded that the petitioner was not entitled to bail at this stage. The issues related to sampling, contradictions, and tampering should be examined during the trial. Given the seriousness of the charges and the quantity of narcotics involved, the court found no grounds to grant bail to the petitioner. Thus, the bail application was dismissed.
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Written by – Ananya Chaudhary