A special court granted bail to two men on Saturday, including a senior citizen, who were arrested with more than 9,000 packets of tablets, allegedly prepared from bhang last month. The court, in its order, stated that bhang was not covered by the provisions of the Narcotic, Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.
Bhang, prepared from the leaves of the cannabis plant and water, is consumed in India mixed with lassi or thandai, especially during Holi.
In some parts of India, it is available in government-authorised shops with control over its cultivation.
In this case, police had arrested Harishankar Chaurasia (60) and Babulal Chaurasia (56), residents of Jogeshwari, on January 24, after a raid. Police submitted before the court that the men were in possession of 60 gutkha tablets and 9,360 packets of two types of digestive tablets prepared from bhang. Police also said the men were found in possession of 1,140 gm marijuana. Opposing their bail, police said the material had been stored for sale.
The lawyer of the accused duo, however, submitted that bhang was not covered by the NDPS Act, despite which police had invoked the sections. The lawyer also said the seized marijuana was not of commercial quantity, which is 20 kilos.
Police said the samples from the seizure had been sent for a forensic examination and the results were awaited. The accused’s lawyer cited a previous judgment where similar digestive tablets made from bhang had been recovered.
“As such, the provisions of the NDPS Act will not be prima facie applicable to the digestive tablets. Considering the non-commercial quantity of ganja and exclusion of bhang from the NDPS Act, I am of the opinion that the accused can be released on bail, the special court stated, in its order, with certain conditions imposed on the accused.
The accused were booked under relevant sections of the NDPS Act concerning cultivation of cannabis.
Previous judgments by high courts have stated that while cultivation is an offence, personal use and sale of bhang is not.
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