Shocking That Police Officials In NDPS Case Did Not Depose Despite Repeated Warrants: P&H HC Grants Bail To Accused
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has recently granted bail to the accused in an NDPS (Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances) case and was shocked to know that the police officials did not depose in such a matter despite repeated warrants being issued.
A Single Bench of Justice Jasgurpreet Singh Puri while allowing the petition held –
"It is rather shocking that the charges in the present case were framed on 18.02.2022, which is almost ten months and for the large number of times repeated adjournments were granted by the learned Addl. Sessions Judge wherein prosecution witnesses have been summoned not only by way of bailable and non-bailable warrants but also by way of arrest warrants of the prosecution witnesses who are the official witnesses and who are the police officials. Once the criminal law was set into motion by the police itself then it is a duty of the police officials especially in the NDPS matters to depose before the Court but on large number of times they did not depose despite the fact that they were served and repeated warrants were issued against them."
Advocate SPS Khaira appeared on behalf of the petitioner while AAG Jashandeep Singh represented the respondent.
The present petition was filed under Section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure for the grant of regular bail to the petitioner under Sections 22 & 25 of the NDPS Act, 1985.
In this case, the petitioner was apprehended by the patrolling party on the suspicion of carrying some intoxicant substance and the allegation was that there was a recovery of 1060 tablets of Tramadol from him. The adjournments were granted by the Additional Sessions Judge many times for the purpose of securing the presence of the prosecution witnesses but they did not even turn up despite the fact that they were served a number of times and bailable, non-bailable, and even arrest warrants were issued against the prosecution witnesses.
The counsel for the petitioner submitted before the Court that the petitioner is not a habitual offender and is not involved in any other case at all. He further submitted that it is a case where the petitioner is in custody for around 1½ years and after completion of the investigation, the final report under Section 173 of the Code of Criminal Procedure has been presented to the competent Court, and thereafter the charges in the present case were framed but till date, no prosecution witness has been examined.
The counsel for the respondent agreed with the fact that the petitioner has faced incarceration for about 1½ years and thereafter number of times the matter was adjourned and repeatedly bailable and non-bailable warrants were issued and even otherwise arrest warrants were also issued.
The High Court after hearing both parties referred to the latest judgment of the Supreme Court in Satender Kumar Antil v. Central Bureau of Investigation and another 2022 AIR (SC) 3386 in which the issue was related to the repeated adjournments and the right to speedy trial as a Fundamental Right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India was recognised.
The Court further observed, "It is actually very surprising that the police officials were summoned by way of bailable warrants, non-bailable warrants and by way of arrest warrants and therefore on the basis of the aforesaid facts and circumstances, this Court has prima facie reasons to believe at least at this stage that the petitioner is not guilty of the offence and so far as the second ingredient for making a departure from the bar contained under Section 37 of the NDPS Act is concerned, the petitioner is stated to be not involved in any other case. Furthermore, it is not the case of the State nor it has been so argued by the learned State counsel that in case the petitioner is released on bail, then he may repeat the offence or he may abscond from justice or influence any witness. Therefore, both the conditions for making a departure from the bar contained under Section 37 of the NDPS Act remain satisfied."
The Court also directed that a copy of the order be sent to the Director General of Police, Punjab for his information in view of the repeated issuance of warrants against the police officials.
Accordingly, the Court allowed the petition and granted bail to the accused subject to furnishing bail bonds/surety.
Cause Title – Sukhwinder Singh v. State of Punjab