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Court Must Comply With S. 37 Of NDPS Act In Case Of Commercial Quantity, SC Holds

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New Delhi (BW): The Supreme Court of India recently held that when there is recovery of commercial quantity of narcotic or psychotropic substance, Court would have to mandatorily record the satisfaction in terms of the rider contained in Section 37 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act).

Bench comprising Justice BR Gavai and Justice Sandeep Mehta heard a special leave petition filed by the state of Tamil Nadu against anticipatory bail granted by Madras High Court to the respondent-accused.

An FIR under Sections 8(c), 20(b)(ii)(c) and 29(1) of the NDPS Act 1985 was registered against the respondent-accused.

The Court noted that the quantity of the narcotic substance seized in the instant case was well above commercial quantity. The commercial quantity of ganja was 20 kilograms.

The Court observed that, “it is apparent that the learned Single Judge totally ignored the submission of the Public Prosecutor that the respondent-accused was arraigned in three more previous cases (two of which involve offence under the NDPS Act). Furthermore, the learned Single Judge also totally ignored the fact that the recovered ganja was well in excess of the commercial quantity as provided in the schedule to the NDPS Act.”

The Court reiterated the effect of Section 37 NDPS Act and stated that, “A plain reading of statutory provision makes it abundantly clear that in the event, the Public Prosecutor opposes the prayer for bail either regular or anticipatory, as the case may be, the Court would have to record a satisfaction that there are grounds for believing that the accused is not guilty of the offence alleged and that he is not likely to commit any offence while on bail.”

The Court further stated that the High Court, while granting relief of anticipatory bail, seemed to have totally ignored the factum of recovery of commercial quantity.

“In case of recovery of such a huge quantity of narcotic substance, the Courts should be slow in granting even regular bail to the accused what to talk of anticipatory bail more so when the accused is alleged to be having criminal antecedents,” the Court observed.

The Court set aside the order passed by Madras High Court granting anticipatory bail to the accused.

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