Accused with multiple FIRs not eligible for bail under Section 37 NDPS Act: Punjab and Haryana High Court

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The Punjab and Haryana High Court recently observed that when there are multiple drug cases pending against an accused, the stringent conditions for the grant of bail in such cases under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act cannot be satisfied. [Mohammad Rayyan Ansari V. State Of Haryana]
Justice Jasjit Singh Bedi added that a “habitual offender” is not entitled to the grant of bail even under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), keeping in view his criminal antecedents.

“On the contrary, in such cases, the custodial interrogation is certainly necessary even though the accused may have joined the investigation at an earlier stage,” the Court said.

Section 37 of the NDPS Act lays down certain conditions before a person who is accused in a drug-related case can be granted bail.

It says that before a court can grant bail to an accused, it is required to grant the Public Prosecutor an opportunity to oppose such release.

The court is also required to satisfy itself that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the accused “is not guilty of such offence and that he is not likely to commit any offence while on bail.”

The High Court, in this case, noted that where an accused already has multiple FIRs against him, it is not possible to grant him bail because the above conditions in Section 37 of the NDPS Act cannot be satisfied.

“In fact, when there are multiple FIRs against an accused over a significant period of time, then the twin conditions as envisaged under Section 37 of the NDPS Act that he had not committed an offence and was not likely to commit an offence cannot be satisfied,” the Court observed.

Justice Bedi made the observation while dismissing an anticipatory bail plea filed by a man (petitioner) who was wanted by the police in connection with a case registered under Sections 21(c), 22(c) and 25 of the NDPS Act at a Police Station in Haryana’s Karnal district.

The case was registered after 12,000 Alprazolam tablets were recovered from a co-accused, who allegedly told the police that he purchased tablets from the petitioner.

The petitioner’s counsel argued that the statement of this co-accused has little evidentiary value.

The police countered that the accused petitioner was a “habitual offender” and that one other case under provisions of the NDPS Act stands registered against him. He is absconding in that case, the prosecution added.

The Court noted that it was highly unlikely that the petitioner was implicated in multiple FIRs “at the whims and fancies of the investigating agency.”

It proceeded to reject the plea to protect the petitioner from arrest after reasoning that Section 37 of the NDPS Act cannot be satisfied in this case.

The Court also noted that the petitioner’s custodial interrogation would be necessary to recover evidence and to take the investigation to its logical conclusion.

Advocate Mohd. Uzair represented the petitioner. Assistant Advocate General Kanwar Sanjiv Kumar represented the State of Haryana.

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