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Omkar Gupta & Another v/s State of Chhattisgarh


Company & Directors' Information:- GUPTA CORPORATION PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U40100MH2005PTC154038

Company & Directors' Information:- M R GUPTA AND COMPANY PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U74899DL1992PTC051324

Company & Directors' Information:- GUPTA INDIA PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U51311DL1996PTC077255

Company & Directors' Information:- GUPTA AND COMPANY PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U52110DL1974PTC007339

Company & Directors' Information:- GUPTA AND GUPTA PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U55204DL1954PTC002390

Company & Directors' Information:- S K GUPTA PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U26900MH1973PTC016294

Company & Directors' Information:- OMKAR (INDIA) PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U17119GJ1988PTC010355

Company & Directors' Information:- R. K. GUPTA AND COMPANY INDIA PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U74899DL1993PTC052138

Company & Directors' Information:- B R GUPTA AND COMPANY PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U63013DL2000PTC107343

Company & Directors' Information:- T N GUPTA PVT LTD [Active] CIN = U02005WB1951PTC020141

Company & Directors' Information:- A V GUPTA AND COMPANY PRIVATE LIMITED [Converted to LLP] CIN = U24239DL1999PTC102248

Company & Directors' Information:- Y P GUPTA AND COMPANY PVT LTD [Under Process of Striking Off] CIN = U74899DL1983PTC016661

Company & Directors' Information:- J S GUPTA AND CO PVT LTD [Strike Off] CIN = U20211UP1975PTC004078

Company & Directors' Information:- M K GUPTA AND CO PRIVATE LTD [Strike Off] CIN = U74999DL1979PTC009517

Company & Directors' Information:- A J GUPTA AND CO PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U74210UP1980PTC004986

Company & Directors' Information:- D. R. GUPTA & COMPANY PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U74899DL1944PTC000794

Company & Directors' Information:- S P GUPTA AND CO PVT LTD [Strike Off] CIN = U26932RJ1972PTC001459

    Misc. Criminal Case Nos. 1467 & 1468 of 2020

    Decided On, 04 August 2020

    At, High Court of Chhattisgarh

    By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE SANJAY K. AGRAWAL

    For the Applicants: Pushpendra Singh Baghel, Advocate. For the Respondents: Sunil Otwani, Additional Advocate General.



Judgment Text


1. Proceedings of these matters have been taken-up for final hearing through video conferencing.

2. Since common question of fact and law is involved in both the above bail applications and they are arising out of common crime number and common police station, they were clubbed together and heard analogously and are being disposed of by this common order.

3. The accused/applicants have moved these bail applications under Section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 for releasing them on regular bail during trial in connection with Crime No.456/2019, registered at Police Station City Kotwali, Jagdalpur, Distt. Jagdalpur for the offence punishable under Section 20(b) of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (for short, 'the NDPS Act').

4. Case of the prosecution, in brief, is that from the possession of the above-stated two applicants and one Pran @ Shiv Kumar Baghel, 60 Kgs. of Ganja was recovered without authority of law.

5. Mr. Pushpendra Singh Baghel, learned counsel appearing for the applicants, would submit that these are the first bail applications filed on behalf of the applicants for grant of regular bail, the applicants have not committed any offence, they have been falsely implicated in the case and they have been arrested on 30-8-2019. There are serious contradictions and omissions in the prosecution case as well as it is doubtful and co-accused Pran @ Shiv Kumar Baghel has already been granted bail by order dated 1-6-2020 passed by a coordinate Bench of this Court in M.Cr.C.No.1099/2020 (Pran @ Shiv Kumar Baghel v. State of Chhattisgarh). Therefore, it is a fit case for grant of bail on merit as well as on parity.

6. Mr. Sunil Otwani, learned Additional Advocate General appearing for the State, would submit that minor contradictions and omissions, if any, would not bring the case of the applicants out of the clutches of Section 37(1)(b) of the NDPS Act and the principle of parity would not apply as in M.Cr.C.No.1099/2020, in case of co-accused, Section 37(1)(b)

(ii) of the NDPS Act has not been considered.

7. I have heard learned counsel for the parties and considered the rival submissions made herein-above and also went through the records with utmost circumspection.

8. Section 37(1)(b) of the NDPS Act states as under:

"37. Offences to be cognizable and non-bailable.—(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974),—

(a) every offence punishable under this Act shall be cognizable;

(b) no person accused of an offence punishable for offences under section 19 or section 24 or section 27A and also for offences involving commercial quantity shall be released on bail or on his own bond unless—

(i) the Public Prosecutor has been given an opportunity to oppose the application for such release, and

(ii) where the Public Prosecutor opposes the application, the court is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing that he is not guilty of such offence and that he is not likely to commit any offence while on bail."

9. A careful perusal of the aforesaid provision would show that power and jurisdiction of the court considering the application for grant of bail under the provisions of the NDPS Act is circumscribed by the provision of Section 37 of the NDPS Act, in the case of a person accused of an offence punishable under Section 19(2), under Section 24(3), under Section 27-A(4) and also of offences involving commercial quantity. These limitations are in addition to those prescribed under the CrPC or any other law in force on the grant of bail. It can be considered and granted only in a case where there are reasonable grounds for believing by the court concerned that the accused is not guilty of such offence and that he is not likely to commit any offence while on bail. The above-stated statutory requirements are mandatory to be complied with while releasing the accused on bail.

10. The Supreme Court in the matter of Union of India v. Ram Samujh and another (1999) 9 SCC 429), considering the issue held that conditions imposed under Section 37(1)(b) of the NDPS Act are mandatory and observed as under:

"8. To check the menace of dangerous drugs flooding the market, Parliament has provided that the person accused of offences under the NDPS Act should not be released on bail during trial unless the mandatory conditions provided in Section 37, namely,

(i) there are reasonable grounds for believing that the accused is not guilty of such offence; and

(ii) that he is not likely to commit any offence while on bail are satisfied. The High Court has not given any justifiable reason for not abiding by the aforesaid mandate while ordering the release of the respondent-accused on bail. Instead of attempting to take a holistic view of the harmful socio-economic consequences and health hazards which would accompany trafficking illegally in dangerous drugs, the court should implement the law in the spirit with which Parliament, after due deliberation, has amended."

11. The Supreme Court in the matter of State of M.P. v. Kajad (2001) 7 SCC 673) held that negation of bail is the rule and its grant an exception under sub-clause

(ii) of clause (b) of Section 37(1) of the NDPS Act and for granting the bail the court must, on the basis of the record produced before it, be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the accused is not guilty of the offences with which he is charged and further that he is not likely to commit any offence while on bail.

12. The aforesaid legal position stands reiterated in the matter of Sami Ullaha v. Superintendent, Narcotic Central Bureau (2008) 16 SCC 471) and Union of India v. Rattan Mallik alias Habul (2009) 2 SCC 624) in which it has been clearly held by their Lordships of the Supreme Court that when a prosecution / conviction is for offence(s) under a special statute and that statute contains specific provisions for dealing with matters arising thereunder, including an application for grant of bail, such provisions cannot be ignored while dealing with such an application. It has been observed in paragraph 9 of Rattan Mallik's case (supra) as under:

"9. The broad principles which should weigh with the court in granting bail in a non-bailable offence have been enumerated in a catena of decisions of this Court and, therefore, for the sake of brevity, we do not propose to reiterate the same. However, when a prosecution/conviction is for offence(s) under a special statute and that statute contains specific provisions for dealing with matters arising thereunder, including an application for grant of bail, these provisions cannot be ignored while dealing with such an application."

13. The Supreme Court in Rattan Mallik's case (supra) and further, in the matter of Union of India and another v. Sanjeev V. Deshpande (2014) 13 SCC 1), explained the true import of Section 37 of the NDPS Act. Paragraph 12 of the report of Rattan Mallik's case (supra) is as follows:

"12. It is plain from a bare reading of the non obstante clause in Section 37 of the NDPS Act and sub-section (2) thereof that the power to grant bail to a person accused of having committed offence under the NDPS Act is not only subject to the limitations imposed under Section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, it is also subject to the restrictions placed by clause (b) of sub-section (1) of Section 37 of the NDPS Act. Apart from giving an opportunity to the Public Prosecutor to oppose the application for such release, the other twin conditions viz. (i) the satisfaction of the court that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the accused is not guilty of the alleged offence; and (ii) that he is not likely to commit any offence while on bail, have to be satisfied. It is manifest that the conditions are cumulative and not alternative. The satisfaction contemplated regarding the accused being not guilty, has to be based on "reasonable grounds"."

14. In the matter of Union of India v. Niyazuddin SK. and another (2018) 13 SCC 738), their Lordships of the Supreme Court reiterating the requirement of Section 37(1)(b) of the NDPS Act to be mandatory, held as under:

"6. Section 37 of the NDPS Act contains special provisions with regard to grant of bail in respect of certain offences enumerated under the said section. They are:

(1) In the case of a person accused of an offence punishable under Section 19, (2) Under Section 24, (3) Under Section 27-A and (4) Of offences involving commercial quantity.

7. The accusation in the present case is with regard to the fourth factor, namely, commercial quantity. Be that as it may, once the Public Prosecutor opposes the application for bail to a person accused of the enumerated offences under Section 37 of the NDPS Act, in case, the court proposes to grant bail to such a person, two conditions are to be mandatorily satisfied in addition to the normal requirements under the provisions of CrPC or any other enactment. (1) The court must be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the person is not guilty of such offence; (2) That person is not likely to commit any offence while on bail.

8. There is no such consideration with regard to the mandatory requirements, while releasing the respondents on bail."

15. Very recently, in Rajesh's case (supra), their Lordships followed the principles of law laid down in Ram Samujh's case (supra) and clearly held that Section 37 of the NDPS Act commences with non-obstante clause and the conditions enumerated in Section 37(1)(b) have to be complied before admitting the accused on bail of the aforesaid offence under the Act in case of commercial quantity. Their Lordships explained the meaning of "reasonable grounds" in paragraph 21 of the report by holding as under in paragraphs 20 and 21 of the said report:

"20. The scheme of Section 37 reveals that the exercise of power to grant bail is not only subject to the limitations contained under Section 439 of the CrPC, but is also subject to the limitation placed by Section 37 which commences with non-obstante clause. The operative part of the said section is in the negative form prescribing the enlargement of bail to any person accused of commission of an offence under the Act, unless twin conditions are satisfied. The first condition is that the prosecution must be given an opportunity to oppose the application; and the second, is that the Court must be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing that he is not guilty of such offence. If either of these two conditions is not satisfied, the ban for granting bail operates.

21. The expression "reasonable grounds" means something more than prima facie grounds. It contemplates substantial probable causes for believing that the accused is not guilty of the alleged offence. 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 is not guilty of the alleged offence. In the case on hand, the High Court seems to have completely overlooked the underlying object of Section 37 that in addition to the limitations provided under the CrPC, or any other law for the time being in force, regulating the grant of bail, its liberal approach in the matter of bail under the NDPS Act is indeed uncalled for."

16. Reverting to the facts of the case, it is quite vivid that in the present case, quantity of Ganja recovered from the present applicants and co- accused Pran @ Shiv Kumar Baghel who has been granted bail is 60 Kgs. that is more than commercial quantity. After going through the record, having heard learned counsel for the parties, considering the material available on record and considering the recovery of huge commercial quantity of Ganja from the present accused / applicants, it cannot be held that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the applicants have not committed the said offence and they are not likely to commit any offence, if released on bail.

17. Now, the question for consideration would be, whether on the principle of parity, the accused persons / applicants are entitled to be released on bail?

18. A careful perusal of the order passed in M.Cr.C.No.1099/2020 being bail application of co-accused Pran @ Shiv Kumar Baghel, would show that the limitations imposed in Section 37(1)(b)(ii) of the NDPS Act were not brought to the notice of the Court while the said bail application was considered, consequently, there is no consideration of the limitations contained in Section 37(1)(b)(ii) of the said Act. The principle of parity has been pressed into service in these bail applications. As it flows from Section 37(1)(b) of the NDPS Act, statutory requirement of recording a finding that there is no reasonable ground for believing that the accused has not committed the offence and he is not likely to commit offence while on bail are mandatory requirements and unless those statutory requirements are fulfilled by the court granting bail, in case the accusation is of commercial quantity, in my considered opinion, bail cannot be granted unless the statutory requirements contained in Section 37(1)(b) of the NDPS Act are met- out and the principle of parity cannot be pressed into service by the applicants in breach of the statutory provisions contained in Section 37(1)(b)(ii) of the NDPS Act.

19. The ground of parity cannot be the sole ground for grant of bail, it is one of the grounds for consideration of application for grant of bail. The accused coming within the scope of Section 37(1)(b) of the NDPS Act has to satisfy the court firstly that he fulfills the statutory requirements under the special Act like Section 37(1)(b) and then he can press into service the principle of parity (equality). Merely on the basis of equality dehors the statutory requirement contained in Section 37(1)(b) of the NDPS Act, an accused of the criminal case for the offence punishable under the NDPS Act having found in possession of commercial quantity of narcotic drugs is not entitled to be released on bail on the ground of parity.

20. As already noticed herein-above, in Rattan Mallik's case (supra), the Union of India filed an appeal before the Supreme Court challenging the order of the Allahabad High Court in suspending the sentence awarded by the trial Court to the accused for having committed offences under Sections 8 read with Section 27-A and 8 read with Section 29 of the NDPS Act and granting bail, considering the limitation imposed in clause

(b) of sub-section (1) of Section 37 of the NDPS Act, and it was held that grant of bail without considering Section 37 of the NDPS Act clearly violates the mandatory requirement of Section 37 and the bail order was set-aside with liberty to decide afresh in the light of the limitation imposed.

21. Similarly, the Orissa High Court in the matter Deepak Parida and another v. State of Odisha (2019 SCC OnLine Ori 126) when co-accused was granted bail in ignorance of Section 37(1)(b) of the NDPS Act, declined to grant bail in the light of Section 37(1)(b) of the said Act by observing as under:

"9. Section 37 of the N.D.P.S. Act opens with a non- obstante clause. Non-obstante clause must be given its due importance. The powers of the High Court to grant bail under section 439 Cr.P.C. are subject to the limitations contained in section 37 of the N.D.P.S. Act. Once the Public Prosecutor opposes the application for bail to a person accused of the enumerated offences under section 37 of the N.D.P.S. Act, in case, the Court proposes to grant bail to such a person, two mandatory conditions are required to be satisfied in addition to the normal requirements under the provisions of the Cr.P.C. or any other enactment. The Court must be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the person is not guilty of such offence and that he is not likely to commit any offence while on bail. The satisfaction of the Court about the existence of the said twin conditions is for a limited purpose and is confined to the question of releasing the accused on bail. The expression "reasonable grounds" used in section 37(1)(b)(ii) of the N.D.P.S. Act connotes substantial probable causes which in turn points to existence of such facts and circumstances as are sufficient in themselves to justify recording of such satisfaction. Whether the grounds are reasonable or not depend on the circumstances in a given situation. The Court while dealing with an application for bail is not called upon to record a finding of 'not guilty' but to see if there are reasonable grounds for believing that the accused is not guilty and records its satisfaction about the existence of such grounds. Additionally, the Court has to record a finding that while on bail, the accused is not likely to commit any offence and there should also exist some materials to come to such a conclusion.

10. Law is well settled that parity cannot be the sole ground for grant of bail but it is one of the grounds for consideration of question of bail. A Judge is not bound to grant bail to an accused on the ground of parity even where the order granting bail to an identically placed co-accused has been passed in flagrant violation of well settled principle of law and the Judge ignores to take into consideration the relevant facts essential for granting bail. Such an order can never form the basis of claim of parity. It will be open to the Judge to reject the bail application of the applicant before him as no Judge is obliged to pass orders against his conscience merely to maintain consistency."

22. Their Lordships of the Supreme Court rejected the plea of parity in respect of grant of bail governed by Section 37(1)(b)(ii) of the NDPS Act in the matter of Satpal Singh v. State of Punjab (2018) 13 SCC 813) by holding that in cases covered under Section 37(1)(b) of the NDPS Act, dehors it, bail cannot be granted on the principle of parity, and observed as under:

"Leave granted. The appellant Satpal Singh (in Crl. Appeal. No. 462 of 2018) is before this Court, challenging the order dated 4-10-2017 passed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh in Sat Pal Singh v. State of Punjab (2017 SCC OnLine P&H 3802) rejecting his application for anticipatory bail. The High Court took note of the fact that the appellant was an accused in FIR No. 0053 dated 11-6-2017 under Sections 22 and 29 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (in short "the NDPS Act"), registered at Police Station Bhadson, District Patiala. Though it was argued that a coordinate Bench of the High Court had granted anticipatory bail to the co-accused, namely, Beant Singh and Gurwinder Singh, who are brothers of the appellant, as per order dated 21-9-2017 10, the learned Judge was not inclined to accept the contention since there was no question of parity as far as the bail is concerned and in view of the fact that the coordinate Bench had not taken note of the limitations under Section 37 of the NDPS Act. In our view, the learned Judge is perfectly right in his approach and in declining the protection under Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (in short "CrPC").

Beant Singh v. State of Punjab, 2017 SCC OnLine P&H 3801

3. Under Section 37 of the NDPS Act, when a person is accused of an offence punishable under Section 19 or 24 or 27-A and also for offences involving commercial quantity, he shall not be released on bail unless the Public Prosecutor has been given an opportunity to oppose the application for such release, and in case a Public Prosecutor op

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poses the application, the court must be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the person is not guilty of the alleged offence and that he is not likely to commit any offence while on bail. Materials on record are to be seen and the antecedents of the accused is to be examined to enter such a satisfaction. These limitations are in addition to those prescribed under CrPC or any other law in force on the grant of bail. In view of the seriousness of the offence, the lawmakers have consciously put such stringent restrictions on the discretion available to the court while considering application for release of a person on bail. It is unfortunate that the provision has not been noticed by the High Court. And it is more unfortunate that the same has not been brought to the notice of the Court. 14. Be that as it may, the order dated 21-9-2017 passed by the High Court does not show that there is any reference to Section 37 of the NDPS Act. The quantity is reportedly commercial. In the facts and circumstances of the case, the High Court could not have and should not have passed the order under Section 438 or 439 CrPC without reference to Section 37 of the NDPS Act and without entering a finding on the required level of satisfaction in case the Court was otherwise inclined to grant the bail. Such a satisfaction having not being entered, the order dated 21-9-2017 is only to be set aside and we do so." 23. Reverting finally to the facts of the present case, this Court is of the considered opinion that the applicants are not entitled to be released on bail as accusations are of commercial quantity and the provisions of Section 37(1)(b)(ii) of the NDPS Act are not satisfied and on the basis of principle of parity, following the principles of law laid down by the Supreme Court in Satpal Singh (supra), it cannot be held that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the applicants in two separate bail applications have not committed the said offences and they are not likely to commit any offence, if released on bail. 24. In view of the aforesaid analysis, I do not find any merit in the bail applications. Both the applications are accordingly rejected.
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