The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has recently said that an accused cannot be kept in custody merely for the reason that the offence alleged to have committed by him is of a serious nature. A single bench of Justice Sanjay Dhar passed this order while hearing a bail application filed by Suraj Kumar.
The fact of the case is that on November 26, 2020, the Police of Police Station Batote intercepted a black coloured vehicle (Wagon-R) bearing Registration No. JK02AV-3560, that was proceeding from Batote towards Nashri. The said vehicle was subjected to checking and upon checking, one plastic bag was recovered from underneath the driver’s seat. The bag was found to contain charas. The driver disclosed his identity as Suraj Kumar alias Sonu, son of Om Raj.
The petitioner-accused Suraj Kumar was booked under Sections 8/20 of NDPS Act. During investigation of the case, the recovered charas was found to be 500 gm and after investigation of the case, offences under Sections 8/20 of NDPS Act were found established against the petitioner and the charge-sheet was laid before the Court of Special Judge. The petitioner’s application for bail was rejected by the trial court on October 27, 2020.
“Allowing the petitioner to remain in custody because of the reason that the offences alleged to have been committed by him are serious in nature, would amount to inflicting pre-trial punishment upon him,”
the High Court said while allowing the bail application of one such accused.
The Court observed, apart from this, the respondents have not placed on record anything to show that the petitioner is habitual offender or that he has previously been either implicated or convicted of similar offences. “It is not the case of the respondents that any further recovery is to be effected from the petitioner. If the petitioner is not enlarged on bail, it may also have an adverse impact on his preparation of defence against the charges that have been laid against him before the trial court,” the bench said.
The bench remarked, “The discretion regarding grant or refusal of bail cannot be exercised against the petitioner on the basis of public sentiments or to teach him a lesson as his guilt is yet to be proved.”
The Court noted the contraband alleged to have been recovered from the possession of the petitioner was of “intermediate quantity” and as such, the rigour of Section 37 NDPS Act would not apply.
“There is no dispute to the fact that the quantity of contraband recovered from the possession of the petitioner does not fall within the parameters of commercial quantity and that the same is an intermediary one. The rigour of Section 37 of NDPS Act, therefore, is not attracted to the instant case. The bail petition of the petitioner is, as such, required to be considered on the touchstone of the principles governing grant of bail under Section 437 of CrPC,” the Court said.