Delhi HC allows man convicted under NDPS Act to perform Haj or Umrah

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Thursday granted permission to a 73-year-old man, convicted under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act in 2010, to travel to Saudi Arabia for a month to perform the Haj or Umrah pilgrimage.

Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma noted the immense significance of the Haj pilgrimage in the Islamic faith, recognising it as one of the five pillars of Islam and a religious obligation for every Muslim.

The court approved the plea filed by Syed Abu Ala, who was convicted for offences under sections 29 and 21(c) of the NDPS Act, sentencing him to rigorous imprisonment for 11 years and six months along with a fine of Rs 2 lakh. Additionally, Ala was convicted under section 25A of the NDPS Act, leading to a further imprisonment of 5 years and a fine of Rs. 50,000.

Despite undergoing a sentence of approximately 10 years and 3 months and paying the fine, Ala’s passport had been surrendered as a condition of his suspended sentence in 2011, prohibiting him from leaving Delhi.

The prosecution opposed Ala’s application, citing the seriousness of his convictions under the NDPS Act and the pending appeal. However, the court exercised its discretion, acknowledging its authority to grant exemptions or no objections for passport issuance or renewal in such cases.

Justice Sharma noted Ala’s age and his expressed desire to fulfill his religious duty of undertaking the Haj pilgrimage, citing the importance of balancing legal obligations with compassion and empathy.

The court recognised the cultural and spiritual significance of the Haj pilgrimage for Muslims and deemed it essential to facilitate Ala’s religious obligations.

The court emphasised the duty to uphold legal obligations while demonstrating practical understanding and compassion, refraining from obstructing Ala’s religious obligations solely due to the prolonged pendency of his appeal.


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