The Gujarat High Court rejected the bail application of a 66 years old man after a contraband substance worth Rs. 16 Lakh was seized from his land.

The Bench of Justice S.H. Vora noted that huge cultivation of poppy straw was going on the land owned by the bail applicant and it was used for commission of offence under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.

In this case, the Police had obtained secret information that inside an abandoned petrol pump of Essar Company, several persons were transferring liquor from one truck to another.

On reaching the spot, the police found two trucks, an Eicher Truck and Car, and several persons were transferring some goods from the trucks. One of the accused disclosed that he was the driver of Eicher Truck and he was not transporting liquor but poppy straw.

On search, police found 62 bags from Eicher Truck and lying on the land where the truck was parked and 7 other bags from the room of the abandoned petrol pump.

All 69 plastic bags of poppy straw of estimated value- Rs.16,62,624/- were found by the police.

Advocate Ronith Joy appearing for the applicant submitted that the applicant was not named in the FIR, nor was he seen at the scene of offence or nearby vicinity. He further submitted that the applicant was not in conscious possession of contraband substance. He also submitted that the co-accused were enlarged on bail. He contended that considering that the applicant was aged 66 years, he may be enlarged on bail.

On the other hand, APP for the state, CM Shah, submitted that the applicant was one of the owner of the land and partner of dealership agreement of Essar Petrol Pump and was holding dealership agreement of abandoned petrol pump. He argued that the applicant was equally responsible for the offence.

The Court at the outset considered Section 25 of the NDPS Act which provides that- "Whoever, being the owner or occupier or having the control or use of any house, room, enclosure, space, place, animal or conveyance, knowingly permits it to be used for the commission by any other person of an offence punishable under any provision of this Act, shall be punishable with the punishment provided for that offence."

The Court observed that the contraband substance seized was of commercial quantity and that the role of the co-accused who were enlarged on bail was not identical inasmuch as they were not owners of the land.

The Court noted, "It is relevant to note here that petrol pump dealership agreement was already expired and huge cultivation of poppy straw was going on the land owned by the applicant and it was used for commission of offence under NDPS Act."

The Court held that it was not a fit case to enlarge the applicant on bail either on account of his age or grant of bail in favour of the two co-accused.

"Therefore, the applicant has no option but to obtain verdict of his either innocence or involvement in the offence by following due procedure as laid down in the Code of Criminal Procedure, since no exceptional circumstances has been pointed by the learned advocate for the applicant", the Court noted while rejecting the bail application.

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