The Punjab and Haryana High Court allowed the Petition of a 23-year-old student, seeking bail who was accused of illegally supplying weapons and funding separatists in the State of Punjab.

The Court noted that the Petitioner's case was of higher importance and expressed concern that the Petitioner had been in preventive custody for 11 months while his co-accused had been released on bail. The Court observed that since the investigation qua the petitioner was finished, and there was no need for his custodial interrogation, he should not be held in preventive custody any longer.

The Bench of Justice Arun Monga observed, “It is stated that petitioner is a 23-year old young student, was aspirant to study further in Canada, where he had though secured admission, but was apprehended at the airport when he was leaving from India. He has already done his food course from the Food Craft Institute at Hoshiarpur and also worked for the Taj group at the Taj Hotel Resorts and Palaces at Bangalore. His entire life and career is thus at stake while he continues to be in preventive custody…Co-accused of the petitioner have been granted concession of bail and yet, petitioner, whose case is on much higher pedestal, as is the argument of his counsel, is in jail…Considering the overall scenario and without commenting on the merits of the case, the instant petition is allowed. I am of the view that no useful purpose would be served to keep the petitioner in further preventive custody”.

Advocate A.D.S. Jattana appeared for the Petitioner and Deputy Advocate General Guramrit Kaur appeared for the Respondent.

A Petition was filed by an under-trial Accused under Sections 153, 153-A, 212, 216, 120-B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC), Section 21 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act) and Section 25 of the Arms Act, 1959. Per the facts of the case, the police received information that a group of individuals, including the Petitioner, were illegally supplying weapons and funding separatists in Punjab, with the intention of causing disturbance under the guise of religion. All accused were allegedly followers of the Khalistan ideology. The Police apprehended the accused at the airport while he was leaving for Canada to study further. The Petitioner contended that since the co-accused individuals were granted bail, he should also be granted bail.

The Court noted that the investigating agency has already obtained the necessary evidence, so there was no likelihood of tampering with evidence and the since the charges against the Petitioner were not yet framed. He should be released on bail, the Court asserted.

“Whereas, petitioner has already been languishing in jail for the past more than 11 months in preventive custody, being behind bars since 23.08.2022…Petitioner is being kept in preventive custody merely on an unfounded suspicion that if he is let out, he may either tamper with evidence and/or influence witnesses. There is no probability of tampering with evidence as the same has already been seized by the investigating agency”, the Court asserted.

Accordingly, the Court allowed the Petition, granted bail to the Petitioner, and directed the authorities to release Petitioner’s passport.

Cause Title: Gurlal Singh @ Lali v. State of Punjab (2023:PHHC:101605)

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