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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Bombay HC grants bail to agriculturist arrested under NDPS Act

The court held that as the actual quantity of the contraband, which was mixed with grass and twigs, was not established, it could not be ascertained that the applicant was guilty of possessing more than the permitted commercial quantity.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |
Updated: August 4, 2021 9:26:14 am
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni passed directions while hearing a PIL by Nallasopara resident Terrence Hendriques, seeking direction for the demolition of all illegal and unauthorised structures in the jurisdiction of the VVMC. (File Photo)

The Bombay High Court recently granted bail to an agriculturist charged and arrested under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act after 51 kilograms of ganja, stored in gunny bags, was recovered from his warehouse during a raid in 2017.

The court held that as the actual quantity of the contraband, which was mixed with grass and twigs, was not established, it could not be ascertained that the applicant was guilty of possessing more than the permitted commercial quantity.

A single-judge bench of Justice Anuja Prabhudessai on July 29 passed the order on a bail plea by Hari Mahadu Valse, filed through advocate Ganesh Gupta, seeking enlargement on bail in an FIR registered in Pune’s Manchar police station for offences punishable under provisions of the NDPS Act.

As per the prosecution, patrolling police had received confidential information that the applicant and his associate had stored ganja in his warehouse for sale and a raid was conducted on August 1, 2017. The police seized some green leaves, flower tops and seeds which were stored in two gunny bags and arrested the applicant. After the probe, the chargesheet was filed and is pending before the trial court.

Advocate Gupta contended that procedures for search and seizure under the NDPS Act were not complied with and there was a delay in forwarding the seized material for chemical analysis. He said flowering tops allegedly seized from the warehouse had not been separately weighed. The commercial quantity of ganja allowed under the NDPS Act is 20 kg.

The bench observed, “The panchnama prima facie reveals that the seized material containing green leaves, flower buds and seeds were weighing approximately 51 kg and 190 grams. The said seized material was forwarded for chemical analysis 10 days after the seizure. The delay per se is immaterial as prima facie there is nothing to show that the seal of the parcel, received by chemical analyser was tampered with.”

The court added the chemical analysis report revealed that the material forwarded for analysis contained flower buds with pieces of stalks, stems, leaves and seeds, without quantifying the weight of flower tops. “This fact prima facie raises a doubt whether ganja seized from the warehouse of the accused was of commercial quantity as to attract the provisions under Section 20(C) of the NDPS Act,” the bench said.

The court also said that the accused had already spent more than three years in jail since his arrest in 2017. “Considering the present situation arising from Covid- 19 pandemic, the trial is not likely to commence and conclude in the immediate future. The applicant has no criminal antecedents. Considering the above facts and circumstances, the bail application is allowed,” Justice Prabhudessai held.

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