The Supreme Court has iterated that during the pendency of the appeal, mere passage of time cannot be a ground to suspend the sentence and grant bail in NDPS Cases.
Judges on NDPS Cases
Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari said that the rigors of Section 37 of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, would have to be met before the sentence of a convict is suspended and bail granted. However, it granted bail to the appellant in the instant case.
NDPS Case Background
Under NDPS Act, Sheru had been convicted and was in custody for almost eight years. Contentions were raised that the case has not yet reached for hearing, despite the directions of the Supreme Court to treat the case at priority.
Additional Solicitor General’s view on the NDPS Act
The Additional Solicitor General opposing this plea contended that in view of the stringent provisions of Section 37 of the NDPS Act, the normal principle of a large period having already been served during the pendency of the appeal cannot be a ground to suspend the sentence and grant bail.
The reliance on a decision in Union of India v. Rattan Mallik @ Habul – (2009) 2 SCC 624 was pointed by the ASG wherein the Supreme court considered an appeal against the High Court order which granted bail on grounds including (ii) convict is in jail for the last three years and (iii) that there is no chance of his appeal being heard within a period of seven years.
Observations By the Bench in the NDPS Case
The Court while setting aside the High Court order had observed,
“In our opinion, the stated circumstances may be relevant for grant of bail in matters arising out of conviction under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 etc. but are not sufficient to satisfy the mandatory requirements as stipulated in sub-clause (b) of sub-section (1) of Section 37 of the NDPS Act.“
The bench noting the rivalry contentions observed:
“We have given a thought to the matter and there is no doubt that the rigors of Section 37 would have to be met before the sentence of a convict is suspended and bail granted and mere passage of time cannot be a reason for the same.”
The bench in consideration of the Covid Pandemic Situation observed:
“We are faced with unusual times where the Covid situation permeates. We are also conscious that this Court has passed orders for release of persons on bail to de-congest the jail but that but that is applicable to cases of upto seven years sentence. In the given aforesaid facts and circumstances of the case, we consider it appropriate to enlarge the appellant on bail on terms and conditions to the satisfaction of the Trial Court.”
Clarifications were made by the court that it should not to be treated as a precedent as after considering the given facts of the case, the order had been passed.
NDPS CASE DETAILS
Counsel: SHERU vs. NARCOTICS CONTROL BUREA
Case no.: CRIMINAL APPEAL Nos.585-586 OF 2020
Coram: Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari
Counsel: Sr.Adv. N.K.Mody , ASG S.V.Raju