There is no doubt to expect some delay in our Indian Judiciary in hearing cases but what is the outcome of cases which are delayed by years? How can those cases be solved and what can be the remedy to it? Should they be provided bail? Or should those accused be punished?
Can bail be granted in the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act,1895 on grounds of Undue Delay in the trial despite some stringent conditions mentioned in section 37 of the Act?
What does section 37 of the NDPS states about granting bail to the accused?
According to section 37 of the NDPS act, the court can grant bail to the accused in the following two conditions-
- there are reasonable grounds to believe that the accused is not guilty of doing what he/she is charged with.
- he/she is likely to not commit any sort of offence while on bail
But a significant order was passed by the Apex Court of India on March 28, in which the bench of S. Ravindra Bhat and Dipankar Datta observed that if there is undue delay in the trial of the accused bail can be granted where the accused was in jail since October 2015.
WHERE DID THE APPEAL ARISE FROM?
The appeal was brought up when a 23-year-old Muslim boy was accused of the illegal supply of highly potent cannabis, also commonly known as ‘Ganja’ locally. Almost a hundred kilograms of the substance was found in the possession of several co-accused of the appellant. The matter was first rejected by the Delhi High Court where a bail application was filed and then it was heard by the Apex Court.
In the judgement Justice Bhat, vocalized and explained what prima facie determination would mean while passing the grant of any bail.
The bench further acknowledged that the plain and literal interpretation of section 37 of the NDPS Act would in the first place exclude any grant to bail and stated that the court needs to be satisfied enough on the prima facie evidence and circumstances and they need to be encouraged that the accused would not commit any offence while on bail.
To sum up, the court needs to be satisfied based on prima facie determination rather than the special conditions mentioned in any of the acts such as NDPS, only then the bail would be valid.
The accused cannot be granted bail unless the twin ingredient of 37(1)(b) and 37(1)(b) ii are satisfied by the court and are sine qua non (an essential condition) while granting bail to the alleged accused.
The ground of undue influence cannot be chained with just section 37 of NDPS, but it also includes 437A to offences which deal with the Narcotic Drug and Psychotropic Substance Act.
While the co-accused were granted bail by the Delhi High Court, the bail of the main accused named Mohd. Muslim was denied bail on the reason being that although the substance was not discovered by him, he was the mastermind behind the whole offence.
The judgement delivered by a group of two judges-bench said that trials including stringent provisions of special laws should be dealt with high sensitivity as well as with high speed.
Additional Solicitor General, Vikramjeet Banerjee said that the stringent provisions and conditions mentioned in section 37 of the NDPS Act are very similar to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. He also supported and argued on the ground of the individual liberty of the accused which he denied to him since October 2015 which is almost 6 years.
The court while responding to the prosecution said that bail might be necessary for ‘public interest’ but if the trials of such cases are not concluded on proper time, then the sufferings of the accused would be immeasurable and unthoughtful.
The Supreme Court further referred to its past judgement based on 436A of CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedure) which states the provision of the maximum period for which an under-trial accused can be detained.
One more point the Supreme Court has tried to convey is that the court needs to free up and clear old cases which have been piled up in almost all the courts.
But why clear up cases which might have the chance to hinder the normal course of things?
Why not clear up cases which need proper and true justice and recognition?
Why free a mastermind of someone who supplies an illegal substance which largely can hamper the youngsters as they act as the majority of buyers?