NDPS Act’s Sec 37 doesn’t fetter grant of bail on grounds of undue delay in trial completion: Delhi HC

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday granted bail to two accused under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act), saying that while Section 37 of the Act sets stringent conditions, prolonged incarceration due to trial delays warrants a re-evaluation of bail eligibility.

“… it is apparent that in spite of the stringent test to be met by the accused under Section 37 of the NDPS for being released on bail, it has been held that the same does not fetter grant of bail to the accused on the ground of undue delay in the completion of trial,” Justice Navin Chawla noted.

The judge noted that extended detention contradicts constitutional rights to life and liberty, and that conditional liberty should prevail over the statutory restrictions.

The court stated, “It has been held that prolonged incarceration generally militates against the Right to Life and Liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India and therefore, the conditional liberty must override the statutory embargo under Section 37 of the NDPS Act.”

The court was hearing bail applications by Vishwajeet Singh and Dev Kumar, who were held with 12 kg of cannabis each in December 2020. The trial court had framed charges against them in December 2021 under relevant Sections of the NDPS Act.

Considering the extended duration of their incarceration and the absence of involvement in other criminal activities, Justice Chawla granted bail to the two accused.

The court noted the inherent risk of denying Fundamental Rights to young individuals due to prolonged detention.

“The applicants are also entitled to be released on bail on the ground that the trial is not likely to conclude anytime soon, while the applicants have been in custody for a long period,” the judge said.

Judge Chawla granted them relief on furnishing a personal bond of Rs 50,000 each, with one local surety each, of the like amount to the satisfaction of the trial court.

An FIR was registered against the two at Badarpur Police Station of New Delhi’s South-East District under Sections 20/61/85 of the NDPS Act.



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