Friday, September 22, 2023

Counsel’s inability to understand proceeding in bail hearing amuses Supreme Court bench

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A hearing for anticipatory bail before the Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and comprising Justice Surya Kant and Justice Hima Kohli saw much mirth on Monday following the petitioner’s counsel’s inability to understand what was happening.

The bench was hearing the plea under Section 438 CrPC for the grant of anticipatory bail to the petitioner in respect of charges under Section 20 (b) of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. Justice Hima Kohli asked the counsel for the petitioner about the grounds mentioned in the plea, which say, “The petitioner is willing to co-operate with the investigating agency.” And asked, “If your client is not co-operating with the investigating agency, then why should we grant anticipatory bail?”

The counsel replied, “No milords, my client is co-operating with the clients.” Then, the bench asked why have you written in the plea that, “Petitioner will co-operate.” To which, the counsel replied that it had happened by mistake.

The bench then granted prayers in the plea and said, “Issue notice, no coercive action, meanwhile the petitioner has to co-operate with the investigating agency.” At this the counsel appeared confused and continued to stare at the bench.

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Then Justice Hima Kohli said to CJI Ramana: “He hasn’t understood.” Thereafter, CJI said to the counsel, “Yes, yes, to your case.” The counsel replied, “Much obliged Milords!” The bench laughed and remarked, “Cartoon!”

The petition had been filed in the Supreme Court aggrieved by the order passed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana, wherein the anticipatory bail application was rejected.

The petitioner’s counsel argued in the High Court that the petitioner has been roped in the present case on the basis of the statement of the co-accused, from whom the alleged recovery was done. The counsel submitted that the petitioner has been wrongly roped in the present case as the petitioner is innocent and no banned substance was ever sold by the petitioner to the co-accused, which was recovered from the said co-accused.

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The state’s counsel submitted that recovery of 520 grams and 40 miligrams of the contraband was done from co-accused who named the petitioner by stating that the said contraband was purchased by him from the petitioner and therefore, the custodial interrogation of the petitioner is necessary to unearth the truth from where, the petitioner was getting the contraband and who were the other recipients, to whom the petitioner was selling the same.

The High Court was of the view that for effective interrogation, especially for the violation of NDPS Act, custodial interrogation is necessary. The lives of the citizens are being destroyed due to the selling of these banned substances. And thus, no ground is made out to grant the petitioner the benefit of anticipatory bail. 

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