Union Of India Through Ncb vs Md. Nawaz Khan on 22 September, 2021


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Supreme Court of India

Union Of India Through Ncb vs Md. Nawaz Khan on 22 September, 2021

Author: Hon’Ble Dr. Chandrachud

Bench: Hon’Ble Dr. Chandrachud, Vikram Nath, B.V. Nagarathna

                                                                                        Reportable

                                       IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                                      CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


                                         Criminal Appeal No. 1043 of 2021
                                     (Arising out of SLP (Crl) No.1771 of 2021)




          Union of India through Narcotics Control Bureau,                         ....Appellant
          Lucknow


                                                      Versus


          Md. Nawaz Khan                                                           ....Respondent




                                                 JUDGMENT

Dr Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, J.

1 This appeal arises from a judgment of a Single Judge at the Lucknow Bench

of the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad dated 1 October 2020. NCB Case

Crime No 14 of 2019 registered at Police Station, NCB, Lucknow for alleged

offences under Sections 8, 21, 27A, 29 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic

Substances Act 1985 1. The High Court has allowed an application for bail.
Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by
Chetan Kumar
Date: 2021.09.22
15:44:11 IST
Reason:

1

“NDPS Act”

1
2 The complaint was filed on 16 September 2019 through the Intelligence

Officer at the Lucknow Zonal Unit of the Narcotics Control Bureau 2. The allegation is

that the NCB, Zonal Unit received information at 1400 hours that three persons

namely Md. Arif Khan, Rafiuddin and Md. Nawaz Khan (the respondent), who are

residents of Manipur were proceeding with heroin/morphine in a Maruti Ritz vehicle

bearing registration No. UK 06 AA 25823 from Dimapur in Nagaland to Rampur in

Uttar Pradesh and that the vehicle would be passing through Banarasi Das College,

Lucknow. The information was reduced into writing and was produced before the

Zonal Director, NCB Lucknow. A team of NCB officers was formed and it was

directed to liaise with the team of the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force, Lucknow 3.

A surveillance was conducted in the area around Babu Banarasi Das College and at

1600 hours, the car in which the respondent was travelling with the other two co-

accused was intercepted. A search was conducted in the presence of a gazetted

officer in view of the provisions of Section 50 of the NDPS Act but nothing

objectionable was recovered in the course of the personal search. However, a

search of the car revealed two polythene packets hidden under the place where the

wiper is connected to the front bonnet of the car. The first packet weighed 1.740 kg,

while the second packet weighed 1.750 kg. Samples were taken and upon testing

with the drug detection kit, the samples tested positive for heroin.

2
“NCB”
3
“UP-STF”

2
3 Since the occupants of the car were not well- versed with Hindi or English, an

official belonging to the Shasastra Seema Bal 4 was summoned at the spot for the

purpose of translation as he hailed from Manipur and was conversant with the

Manipuri language. The statements of the three accused persons were recorded in

English and were translated in Manipuri by the official from the SSB and the

accused were placed under arrest. However, while certifying the statement of the

respondent, the official of the SSB mentioned the name of Mohd. Arif Khan in place

of the respondent (Md. Nawaz Khan).

4 The sample packets marked as P1S1 and P2S1 were sent to the Chief

Examiner, Central Revenues Control Laboratory, New Delhi 5 on 27 March 2019. A

chemical examination report dated 25 April 2019 was prepared by CRCL which

stated that the samples did not test positive for diacetylmorphine that is heroin,

however, it tested positive for morphine.

5 Letters dated 10 July 2019 were sent to Airtel Private Limited, Lucknow;

Vodafone Idea Limited, Lucknow; and Reliance JIO Info Communication Limited

Lucknow, to obtain certified copies of call detail records 6 and customer application

forms 7 relating to certain mobile numbers. The CDR analysis of the said mobile

numbers indicates that the respondent was regularly corresponding with the co-

accused and one Anish @ Abbas, who is a resident of Dimapur and is also

suspected to be involved in drug trafficking.

4
“SSB”
5
“CRCL”
6
“CDR”
7
“CAF”

3
6 The application for bail moved by the respondent was rejected by the Seventh

Additional District and Sessions Judge, Lucknow on 27 June 2019, observing that a

huge quantity of heroin weighing 3.300 kg was recovered and that having regard to

the seriousness and gravity of the crime, no case for the grant of bail was

established. The respondent moved the High Court and by the impugned order

dated 1 October 2020, the application for bail was allowed.

7 The submission of the respondent before the High Court was that he was only

a companion in the vehicle which was driven by co-accused Rafiuddin and was not

in conscious possession of the contraband since it had been recovered from the

wiper fitted on the front bonnet of the vehicle, of which he had no knowledge.

Moreover, it was urged that the provisions of Sections 42 and 50 of the NDPS Act

were not complied with. According to the respondent, the statement under Section

67 had not been duly explained to him, which was evident from the fact that the

official of the SSB who signed it had certified that the translation had been explained

in Manipuri to Mohd. Arif Khan (co-accused). The name of the respondent as noted

earlier is Md. Nawaz Khan. The High Court allowed the application for bail and

observed thus:

“Considering the rival submissions of learned counsel for
parties, going through the recovery memo, alleged statement
of the applicant recorded under Section 67 of the NDPS Act
and the certification of Shri L.H. Kapin, it is evident that
indisputably the alleged contraband was recovered from the
wiper fitted on the front bonnet of the vehicle, which was
being driven by Rafiuddin and the applicant was sitting in the
said vehicle along with Arif Khan. Admittedly, nothing was
recovered from the possession of the applicant. Further, in
the search memo prepared by the officials, they categorically

4
mentioned that, since the persons were not well conversed
with the Hindi or English language, Shri LH. Kapin, personnel
of SSB IV Battalion, Lucknow was requested to arrive on the
spot for explaining the contents. A perusal of Annexure No. 3
of the counter affidavit goes to show that the name of the
applicant is mentioned on the statement, but it also reveals
that while certifying this statement, Shri LH. Kapin mentioned
in his certification that “Translated the statement as stated by
Md. Arif Khan and after recording of stated read over the
statement and made understand in Manipuri Language.”

Thus, since the statement was explained to Mohd. Arif Khan
and not to the applicant as also that this statement was filed
along with the complaint before the court below, oral
argument of the learned counsel for the respondent at this
juncture, cannot be accepted that due to mistake, the name of
Mohd. Arif Khan is mentioned in place of Mohd. Nawaz
(applicant). It is also undisputed that the applicant does not
have any criminal antecedent.”

8 Mr SV Raju, Additional Solicitor General 8 appearing on behalf of the appellant

submitted that in view of the decision in Tofan Singh v. State of Tamil Nadu 9,

where it was held that a confessional statement made under Section 67 of the

NDPS Act will not be admissible in evidence, he does not seek to place reliance on

the statement of the respondent. At the same time, it was urged that the High Court

while granting bail has lost sight of three crucial circumstances namely:

(i) A huge contraband of morphine weighing 3.300 kg has been recovered

from the vehicle;

(ii) The respondent was admittedly travelling in the vehicle all the way from

Dimapur in Nagaland to Rampur in Uttar Pradesh; and

(iii) The complaint tabulates the call data records of the cell phones used

by the accused. The accused persons were found to have been in

8
“ASG”
9
(2021) 4 SCC 1.

5

touch with each other and a flow chart has been set out in the

complaint.

9     In addition, it was urged that:


      (i)     The decisions of this Court have held that compliance with the

provisions of Section 42 of the NDPS Act is warranted where a private

vehicle is sought to be searched in a public place;

(ii) As a matter of fact the contents of the complaint would indicate that

there was compliance with the provisions of Section 42 of the NDPS

Act;

(iii) Several decisions of this Court indicate that whether the provisions of

Section 42 of the NDPS Act have been complied with is a matter of

trial; and

(iv) A presumption under Section 54 of the NDPS Act would arise in

respect of the possession of a narcotic drug which is found to be in the

conscious possession of the accused.

On the above grounds, the learned ASG submitted that no case for the grant

of bail exists, particularly, having regard to the provisions of Section

37(1)(b)(ii) of the NDPS Act.

10 Apart from the above circumstances, it has been submitted that the

respondent, after having been released on bail, has consistently avoided appearing

before the Sessions Judge at Lucknow as a result of which charges could not be

6
framed and eventually a non-bailable warrant has been issued against the

respondent.

11 On the other hand, Mr Rakesh Dahiya, learned Counsel appearing on behalf

of the respondent submitted that the contraband in the present case was found

concealed in the vehicle in which the respondent was travelling. Thus, it cannot be

stated that it was the respondent who was in conscious possession of the

contraband. Learned counsel submitted that the respondent is neither the driver nor

the owner of the vehicle and in this backdrop, the order of the High Court enlarging

him on bail cannot be faulted.

12 At the present stage, it is material to note that:

(i) The vehicle which was intercepted at Lucknow was proceeding from

Dimapur (Nagaland) towards Rampur (Uttar Pradesh);

(ii) The quantity of 3.300 kg of a narcotic substance which is a commercial

quantity was found concealed in the vehicle;

(iii) The respondent is not an unknown passenger but a person who,

according to the prosecution, was closely in contact with the co-

accused.

13 The principles that guide this Court while assessing an order of the High

Court granting bail have been succinctly laid down in Prasanta Kumar Sarkar v.

Ashis Chatterjee 10 . In Prasanta Kumar (supra), while the trial court dismissed

several bail applications that were filed by the accused who was charged for the

10
(2010) 14 SCC 496

7
commission of an offence punishable under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code

1860 11, the High Court allowed the bail application. Justice DK Jain, speaking for the

two-judge Bench, observed:

“9. … this Court does not, normally, interfere with an order
passed by the High Court granting or rejecting bail to the
accused. However, it is equally incumbent upon the High
Court to exercise its discretion judiciously, cautiously and
strictly in compliance with the basic principles laid down in a
plethora of decisions of this Court on the point. It is well
settled that, among other circumstances, the factors to be
borne in mind while considering an application for bail are:

(i) whether there is any prima facie or reasonable ground to
believe that the accused had committed the offence;

(ii) nature and gravity of the accusation;

(iii) severity of the punishment in the event of conviction;

(iv) danger of the accused absconding or fleeing, if released
on bail;

(v) character, behaviour, means, position and standing of the
accused;

(vi) likelihood of the offence being repeated;

(vii) reasonable apprehension of the witnesses being
influenced; and

(viii) danger, of course, of justice being thwarted by grant of
bail.”

14 The decision in Prasanta Kumar (supra) was referred to in a judgment of this

Court in Mahipal v. Rajesh Kumar @ Polla & Anr. 12, where the High Court had

granted bail to an accused who was charged with the commission of an offence

punishable under Section 302 of the IPC. One of us (Justice DY Chandrachud),

speaking for the Court held and laid down the standard for adjudicating a plea for

the cancellation of bail :

“14. The provision for an accused to be released on bail
touches upon the liberty of an individual. It is for this reason

11
“IPC”
12
(2020) 2 SCC 118

8
that this Court does not ordinarily interfere with an order of
the High Court granting bail. However, where the discretion of
the High Court to grant bail has been exercised without the
due application of mind or in contravention of the directions of
this Court, such an order granting bail is liable to be set aside.
The Court is required to factor, amongst other things, a prima
facie view that the accused had committed the offence, the
nature and gravity of the offence and the likelihood of the
accused obstructing the proceedings of the trial in any
manner or evading the course of justice. The provision for
being released on bail draws an appropriate balance between
public interest in the administration of justice and the
protection of individual liberty pending adjudication of the
case. However, the grant of bail is to be secured within the
bounds of the law and in compliance with the conditions laid
down by this Court. It is for this reason that a court must
balance numerous factors that guide the exercise of the
discretionary power to grant bail on a case-by-case basis.
Inherent in this determination is whether, on an analysis of
the record, it appears that there is a prima facie or reasonable
cause to believe that the accused had committed the crime. It
is not relevant at this stage for the court to examine in detail
the evidence on record to come to a conclusive finding.

[…]

16. Where a court considering an application for bail fails to
consider relevant factors, an appellate court may justifiably
set aside the order granting bail. An appellate court is thus
required to consider whether the order granting bail
suffers from a non-application of mind or is not borne out
from a prima facie view of the evidence on record. It is
thus necessary for this Court to assess whether, on the basis
of the evidentiary record, there existed a prima facie or
reasonable ground to believe that the accused had committed
the crime, also taking into account the seriousness of the
crime and the severity of the punishment.”
(emphasis supplied)

15 The dual test propounded in Mahipal (supra) was subsequently followed by

this Court in Prabhakar Tewari v. State of Uttar Pradesh 13.

13

(2020) 11 SCC 648

9
16 With regard to the grant of bail for offences under the NDPS Act, in Union of

India v. Shiv Shanker Kesari 14 this Court observed that bail may be cancelled if it

has been granted without adhering to the parameters under Section 37 of the NDPS

Act. Further, in Union of India v. Prateek Shukla 15 , one of us (Justice DY

Chandrachud), speaking for a two-judge Bench, noted that non-application of mind

to the rival submissions and the seriousness of the allegations involving an offence

under the NDPS Act by the High Court are grounds for cancellation of bail.

17 Section 37 of the NDPS Act regulates the grant of bail in cases involving

offences under the NDPS Act. Section 37 reads as follows:

“(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal
Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974),—

(a) every offence punishable under this Act shall be cognizable;

(b) no person accused of an offence punishable for
[offences under section 19 or section 24 or section 27A and
also for offences involving commercial quantity] shall be
released on bail or on his own bond unless—

(i) the Public Prosecutor has been given an opportunity to
oppose the application for such release, and

(ii) where the Public Prosecutor opposes the application,
the court is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds
for believing that he is not guilty of such offence and that
he is not likely to commit any offence while on bail.
(2) The limitations on granting of bail specified in clause (b) of
sub-section (1) are in addition to the limitations under the Code of
Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974) or any other law for the
time being in force on granting of bail.

(emphasis supplied)

14
(2007) 7 SCC 798
15
(2021) 5 SCC 430

10
18 Under Section 37(1)(b)(ii), the limitations on the grant of bail for offences

punishable under Sections 19, 24 or 27A and also for offences involving a

commercial quantity are :

(i) The Prosecutor must be given an opportunity to oppose the application

for bail; and

(ii) There must exist ‘reasonable grounds to believe’ that (a) the person is

not guilty of such an offence; and (b) he is not likely to commit any

offence while on bail.

19 The standard prescribed for the grant of bail is ‘reasonable ground to believe’

that the person is not guilty of the offence. Interpreting the standard of ‘reasonable

grounds to believe’, a two-judge Bench of this Court in Shiv Shanker Kesari

(supra), held that:

“7. The expression used in Section 37(1)(b)(ii) is “reasonable
grounds”. The expression means something more than
prima facie grounds. It connotes substantial probable
causes for believing that the accused is not guilty of the
offence charged and this reasonable belief contemplated in
turn points to existence of such facts and circumstances as
are sufficient in themselves to justify recording of
satisfaction that the accused is not guilty of the offence
charged.

8. The word “reasonable” has in law the prima facie meaning of
reasonable in regard to those circumstances of which the actor,
called on to act reasonably, knows or ought to know. It is difficult
to give an exact definition of the word “reasonable”.

“7. … In Stroud’s Judicial Dictionary, 4th Edn., p. 2258 states
that it would be unreasonable to expect an exact definition of
the word ‘reasonable’. Reason varies in its conclusions
according to the idiosyncrasy of the individual, and the times

11
and circumstances in which he thinks. The reasoning which
built up the old scholastic logic sounds now like the jingling of
a child’s toy.”
(See Municipal Corpn. of Delhi v. Jagan Nath Ashok
Kumar
[(1987) 4 SCC 497] (SCC p. 504, para 7) and Gujarat
Water Supply and Sewerage Board v. Unique Erectors (Gujarat)
(P) Ltd
. [(1989) 1 SCC 532]

[…]

10. The word “reasonable” signifies “in accordance with reason”.
In the ultimate analysis it is a question of fact, whether a
particular act is reasonable or not depends on the circumstances
in a given situation. (See Municipal Corpn. of Greater
Mumbai v. Kamla Mills Ltd
. [(2003) 6 SCC 315]

11. The court while considering the application for bail with
reference to Section 37 of the Act is not called upon to record a
finding of not guilty. It is for the limited purpose essentially
confined to the question of releasing the accused on bail that the
court is called upon to see if there are reasonable grounds for
believing that the accused is not guilty and records its satisfaction
about the existence of such grounds. But the court has not to
consider the matter as if it is pronouncing a judgment of acquittal
and recording a finding of not guilty.”
(emphasis supplied)

20 Based on the above precedent, the test which the High Court and this Court

are required to apply while granting bail is whether there are reasonable grounds to

believe that the accused has not committed an offence and whether he is likely to

commit any offence while on bail. Given the seriousness of offences punishable

under the NDPS Act and in order to curb the menace of drug-trafficking in the

country, stringent parameters for the grant of bail under the NDPS Act have been

prescribed.

21 In the present case, the High Court while granting bail to the respondent

adverted to two circumstances, namely (i) absence of recovery of the contraband

12
from the possession of the respondent and (ii) the wrong name in the endorsement

of translation of the statement under Section 67 of the NDPS Act.

22 We shall deal with each of these circumstances in turn. The respondent has

been accused of an offence under Section 8 of the NDPS Act, which is punishable

under Sections 21, 27A, 29, 60(3) of the said Act. Section 8 of the Act prohibits a

person from possessing any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance. The concept

of possession recurs in Sections 20 to 22, which provide for punishment for offences

under the Act. In Madan Lal and Another v. State of Himachal Pradesh 16 this

Court held that

“19. Whether there was conscious possession has to be
determined with reference to the factual backdrop. The facts
which can be culled out from the evidence on record are that all
the accused persons were travelling in a vehicle and as noted by
the trial court they were known to each other and it has not been
explained or shown as to how they travelled together from the
same destination in a vehicle which was not a public vehicle.

20. Section 20(b) makes possession of contraband articles an
offence. Section 20 appears in Chapter IV of the Act which
relates to offences for possession of such articles. It is submitted
that in order to make the possession illicit, there must be a
conscious possession.

21. It is highlighted that unless the possession was coupled with
the requisite mental element i.e. conscious possession and not
mere custody without awareness of the nature of such
possession, Section 20 is not attracted.

22. The expression “possession” is a polymorphous term which
assumes different colours in different contexts. It may carry
different meanings in contextually different backgrounds. It is
impossible, as was observed in Supdt. & Remembrancer of Legal
16
(2003) 7 SCC 465

13
Affairs, W.B. v. Anil Kumar Bhunja [(1979) 4 SCC 274 : 1979
SCC (Cri) 1038 : AIR 1980 SC 52] to work out a completely
logical and precise definition of “possession” uniform[ly]
applicable to all situations in the context of all statutes.

23. The word “conscious” means awareness about a particular
fact. It is a state of mind which is deliberate or intended.

[…]

26. Once possession is established, the person who claims that it
was not a conscious possession has to establish it, because how
he came to be in possession is within his special knowledge.
Section 35 of the Act gives a statutory recognition of this position
because of the presumption available in law. Similar is the
position in terms of Section 54 where also presumption is
available to be drawn from possession of illicit articles.”

What amounts to “conscious possession” was also considered in Dharampal Singh

v. State of Punjab 17 , where it was held that the knowledge of possession of

contraband has to be gleaned from the facts and circumstances of a case. The

standard of conscious possession would be different in case of a public transport

vehicle with several persons as opposed to a private vehicle with a few persons

known to one another. In Mohan Lal v. State of Rajasthan 18 , this Court also

observed that the term “possession” could mean physical possession with animus;

custody over the prohibited substances with animus; exercise of dominion and

control as a result of concealment; or personal knowledge as to the existence of the

contraband and the intention based on this knowledge.

17

(2010) 9 SCC 608
18
(2015) 6 SCC 222

14
23 We have referred to the above precedents to reiterate the governing

principles. At this stage of the proceedings, it needs only to be clarified that the trial

is to take place this Court where evidence will be adduced.

24 As regards the finding of the High Court regarding absence of recovery of the

contraband from the possession of the respondent, we note that in Union of India v.

Rattan Mallik19, a two-judge Bench of this Court cancelled the bail of an accused

and reversed the finding of the High Court, which had held that as the contraband

(heroin) was recovered from a specially made cavity above the cabin of a truck, no

contraband was found in the ‘possession’ of the accused. The Court observed that

merely making a finding on the possession of the contraband did not fulfil the

parameters of Section 37(1)(b) and there was non-application of mind by the High

Court.

25 In line with the decision of this Court in Rattan Mallik (supra), we are of the

view that a finding of the absence of possession of the contraband on the person of

the respondent by the High Court in the impugned order does not absolve it of the

level of scrutiny required under Section 37(1)(b)(ii) of the NDPS Act.

26 With regard to the statement under Section 67 of the NDPS Act, the High

Court has placed abundant reliance on the inclusion of Mohd. Arif Khan’s name in

place of the respondent’s name in the endorsement of translation on the statement

of the respondent. In Tofan Singh (supra), a three judge Bench of this Court held

that a statement under Section 67 of the NDPS Act is inadmissible. The ASG

19
(2009) 2 SCC 624

15
submitted that independent of the statement, there are valid reasons to deny bail on

the basis of the material which has emerged at this stage.

27 Another submission that has been raised by the counsel for the respondent

both before the High Court and this Court is that due to non-compliance of the

procedural requirement under Section 42 of the NDPS Act 20, the respondent should

be granted bail. Section 42 provides that on the receipt of information of the

commission of an offence under the statute, the officer will have to write down the

information and send it to a superior officer with 72 hours. It has been submitted by

the respondent that though the information was received by the Zonal Director, the

information was put down in writing by an officer who was a part of the team

constituted on the receipt of the information. The written information was then sent

to the Zonal Director. This Court Karnail Singh v. State of Haryana 21 held that

though the writing down of information on the receipt of it should normally precede

the search and seizure by the officer, in exceptional circumstances that warrant

immediate and expedient action, the information shall be written down later along

with the reason for the delay:

20
“42. Power of entry, search, seizure and arrest without warrant or authorisation: (1) Any such officer (being an
officer superior in rank to a peon, sepoy or constable) of the departments of central excise, narcotics, customs,
revenue intelligence or any other department of the Central Government including para-military forces or armed
forces as is empowered in this behalf by general or special order by the Central Government, or any such officer
(being an officer superior in rank to a peon, sepoy or constable) of the revenue, drugs control, excise, police or any
other department of a State Government as is empowered in this behalf by general or special order of the State
Government, if he has reason to believe from persons knowledge or information given by any person and taken down
in writing that any narcotic drug, or psychotropic substance, or controlled substance in respect of which an offence
punishable under this Act [..];

(2) Where an officer takes down any information in writing under sub-section (1) or records grounds for his belief
under the proviso thereto, he shall within seventy-two hours send a copy thereof to his immediate official superior.”
21
(2009) 8 SCC 539

16
“35. […](c) In other words, the compliance with the
requirements of Sections 42(1) and 42(2) in regard to writing
down the information received and sending a copy thereof to
the superior officer, should normally precede the entry,
search and seizure by the officer. But in special
circumstances involving emergent situations, the recording of
the information in writing and sending a copy thereof to the
official superior may get postponed by a reasonable period,
that is, after the search, entry and seizure. The question is
one of urgency and expediency.

(d) While total non-compliance with requirements of
subsections (1) and (2) of Section 42 is impermissible,
delayed compliance with satisfactory explanation about the
delay will be acceptable compliance with Section 42. To
illustrate, if any delay may result in the accused escaping or
the goods or evidence being destroyed or removed, not
recording in writing the information received, before initiating
action, or non-sending of a copy of such information to the
official superior forthwith, may not be treated as violation of
Section 42. But if the information was received when the
police officer was in the police station with sufficient time to
take action, and if the police officer fails to record in writing
the information received, or fails to send a copy thereof, to the
official superior, then it will be a suspicious circumstance
being a clear violation of Section 42 of the Act. Similarly,
where the police officer does not record the information at all,
and does not inform the official superior at all, then also it will
be a clear violation of Section 42 of the Act. Whether there is
adequate or substantial compliance with Section 42 or not is
a question of fact to be decided in each case. The above
position got strengthened with the amendment to Section 42
by Act 9 of 2001.”

28 Further, it was held that the issue of whether there was compliance of the

procedure laid down under Section 42 of the NDPS Act is a question of fact. The

decision in Karnail Singh (supra) was recently followed by this Court in Boota

Singh v. State of Haryana 22.

22

2021 SCC OnLine SC 324

17
29 In the complaint that was filed on 16 October 2019 it is alleged that at about

1400 hours on 26 March 2019, information was received that between 1500-1700

hours on the same day, the three accused persons would be reaching Uttar

Pradesh. The complaint states that the information was immediately reduced to

writing. Therefore, the contention that Section 42 of the NDPS Act was not complied

with is prima facie misplaced. The question is one that should be raised in the

course of the trial.

30 The following circumstances are crucial to assessing whether the High Court

has correctly evaluated the application for bail, having regard to the provisions of

Section 37:

(i) The respondent was travelling in the vehicle all the way from Dimapur in

Nagaland to Rampur in Uttar Pradesh with the co-accused;

(ii) The complaint notes that the CDR analysis of the mobile number used by

the respondent indicates that the respondent was in regular touch with the

other accused persons who were known to him;

(iii) The quantity of contraband found in the vehicle is of a commercial

quantity; and

(iv) The contraband was concealed in the vehicle in which the respondent was

travelling with the co-accused.

18

31 The impugned order of the High Court, apart from observing that no

contraband was found from the personal search of the respondent has ignored the

above circumstances. The High Court has merely observed that

“[…]
In view of the above, the twin conditions contained under Section
37(1)(b)
of the NDPS Act stand satisfied. This Court is of the
view that if there is reasonable ground, the applicant is entitled to
be released on bail.”

32 The High Court has clearly overlooked crucial requirements and glossed over

the circumstances which were material to the issue as to whether a case for the

grant of bail was established. In failing to do so, the order of the High Court

becomes unsustainable. Moreover, it has emerged, during the course of the hearing

that after the respondent was enlarged on bail he has consistently remained away

from the criminal trial resulting in the issuance of a non-bailable warrant against him.

The High Court ought to have given due weight to the seriousness and gravity of the

crime which it has failed to do.

33 For the above reasons, we allow the appeal and set aside the impugned

judgment and order of the High Court dated 1 October 2020 in Bail No. 7379 of

2019.

19
34 The application for bail filed by the respondent shall stand dismissed. The

respondent shall accordingly surrender forthwith.

35 Pending application (s), if any, stand disposed of.

………..………………………………………J
[Dr Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud]

……..…..…………………………………………J
[B V Nagarathna]

New Delhi;

September 22, 2021

20



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