Report No. 268
Cases Registered under NDPS
Table 4: No of Cases Registered under NDPS Act in The Last Five Years
Source: National Crimes Records Bureau, 2015
8.3 While granting bail under s. 37 (1) (b) (ii), of the NDPS Act the court must be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the accused person is not guilty and that he is not likely to commit any offence when released on bail. For bail to be granted, both the above conditions must be satisfied. The provisions in NDPS Act are undoubtedly stringent. The Act lays down stricter restrictions on awarding bail to people charged with offences involving commercial quantity and for certain other offences.185
Such special laws require a higher degree of assurance as to the innocence of the person accused of an offence, for the Judge to grant him bail. In Narcotics Control Bureau v. Dilip Pralhad Namade,186 the Supreme Court held that the expression "reasonable grounds" means something more than just the prima facie grounds... The 'reasonable belief' contemplated in the provision requires existence of such facts and circumstances as are sufficient in themselves to justify satisfaction that the accused person is not guilty of the alleged offence and he is not likely to commit any offence while on bail.
8.4 In the NDPS Act, the pre-trial detention period for offences involving commercial quantity, and certain other offences187 is one hundred and eighty days. If it is not possible to complete the investigation within such time period, the Special Court may extend the said period up to one year based on the report of the public prosecutor indicating the progress of the investigation and the specific reasons for the detention of the person accused of an offence beyond the said period of one hundred and eighty days.188
It was observed by the Supreme Court in the case of Supreme Court Legal Aid Committee representing Undertrial Prisoners v. Union of India that bail under such special legislations remains inconsistent and unpredictable and therefore, raises concerns regarding the violation of Article 21 of the constitution of India with regards to the rights of the accused person.189 A law that forbids the courts from granting bail to an offender but does not prescribe any time limit for conclusion of the trial, is antithetic to the principles of justice and liberty.190
Supreme Court has repeatedly warned that such cases should be decided expeditiously.191 However, there is little evidence that such cases are disposed of faster than the others. Examples include cases such as Achint Navinbhai Patel alias Mahesh Shah v. State of Gujarat192 and Thana Singh v. Central Bureau of Narcotics193 where the High Court refused to release the person accused of an offence on bail under s. 37 of NDPS Act even though the trial had been going on for eight years and twelve years respectively. Detention for a period of 180 days may appear excessive, even after bearing in mind the special circumstances and complexities that surround a drug related cases.
It may be pertinent to refer to terrorism related laws (discussed below), where the legislations lay down that the time period necessary to detain a person without bail is 90 days longer than the said period of 60 days under 167 of Cr.P.C. It may be argued that when terrorism laws that govern crimes that are more hazardous to the society than drugs related crimes, can provide only 90 days of detention, consequently, detention in drug related cases must also be comparable.. However, serious offences related to drug trafficking cannot be allowed to bypass the justice system, as this will set a wrong precedent and would not sufficiently deter such crimes. 194