The Supreme Court has recently upheld the bail granted to a man accused of financing illicit trafficking in contrabands and harbouring offenders.

The Bench of Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Aniruddha Bose dismissed an appeal filed by the State and upheld the Bail granted to the Accused charged with offence under Sections 21(b)/29/27A of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985.

The Division Bench of Calcutta High Court had granted bail to the said accused by imposing additional conditions apart from bail bonds and sureties.

In this case the respondent-accused was arrested for the offence under Section 27A of the NDPS Act, i.e., financing illicit trafficking in contrabands and harbouring offenders; and with the allegations that he got the contraband procured and then got it planted in a vehicle for falsely implicating the occupants of that vehicle.

The Trial Court rejected the bail application of the accused however the High Court granted bail to the accused with some additional conditions.

Feeling aggrieved by the Order of the High Court of Calcutta, the State approached the Supreme Court.

It was contended by the Advocate General representing the State that the provisions of the NDPS Act should be strictly enforced to curb the menace of drug trafficking. Reliance was placed on State of Kerala & Ors. v. Rajesh & Ors: (2020) to highlight the operation of Section 37 NDPS Act and Union of India through Narcotics Control Bureau, Lucknow v. Md. Nawaz Khan: 2021 to emphasize that mere absence of possession of contraband does not absolve scrutiny under Section 37 of the NDPS Act.

Vivek Narayan Sharma, the counsel representing the Accused argued that the High Court had not erred in granting bail as it had considered factors such as – only intermediate quantity of contraband being involved, Section 27 of the NDPS Act not being attracted due to lack of prima facie evidence concerning involvement of the Accused, lack of history of Accused dealing in narcotics, no recovery of contraband being made and the FIR and Charge-sheet being vastly different from one another, thus raising doubts regarding the prosecution's case.

The Bench noted that– "…the High Court has rightly found that applicability of Section 27A NDPS Act is seriously questionable in this case. That being the position; and there being otherwise no recovery from the respondent and the quantity in question being also intermediate quantity, the rigours of Section 37 NDPS Act do not apply to the present case."

The Court also observed that the accused was not involved in any NDPS Act case or any akin offence in the past.

In view of the above, the Apex Court opined that – "...we find no reason to consider interference in the order passed by the High Court granting bail to the respondent with specific conditions." and accordingly dismissed the appeal.

Click here to read/download the Judgment