The Karnataka High Court has ruled that ‘bhang’ is not declared as a prohibited drug or drink under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, and granted bail to a man who was arrested in the city for possessing 29 kilograms of the concoction.
The Begur police had arrested Roshan Kumar Mishra, a native of Bihar, on June 1 and recovered branded ‘bhang’ along with 400 grams of ganja from him.
Roshan Mishra’s bail petition was rejected by a lower court after which he approached the High Court, and was granted bail by Justice K Natarajan recently.
The High Court said, “There is no scientific evidence before this court to show that Bhang is prepared out of either charas or ganja or ganja leaves.” Under the NDPS Act, ganja leaves and seeds are also excluded from the definition of ganja and “nowhere in the NDPS Act is bhang referred as a prohibited drink or prohibited drug,” the HC said.
Roshan Mishra’s advocate, S Manoj Kumar, argued that “bhang is a drink normally sold in the lassi shops in north India. It is not a prohibitory drug. The said drink is used during the Shivarathri festival and it is not a banned drink and does not fall under the NDPS Act.” The government advocate, however, contended that bhang was prepared out of ganja leaves and therefore it comes under the definition of ganja.
The HC referred to two earlier judgements — Madhukar versus State of Maharashtra and Arjun Singh vs State of Haryana. In both the cases, it was held that bhang was not ganja and did not come under the NDPS Act.
The HC, in its judgement, said that till the forensic science laboratory gives its report, it cannot confirm that bhang is prepared out of charas or ganja. Since Mishra was under custody since arrest, he was therefore eligible for bail.
Mishra also had 400 grams of ganja on him when arrested. Since it was a small quantity, he was eligible for bail. He was directed to execute a personal bond of ₹ 2 lakh as bail condition.
“It is worth to mention that bhang is a traditional drink, most of the people used to drink in north India especially near the Shiva temples and it is also available in lassi shops like all other drinks. That apart, the said bhang was sold in the market with branded names,” the HC noted in its judgement.