HC releases drug peddlers on bail

Excelsior Correspondent

SRINAGAR, Mar 12: High Court has suspended the conviction and sentence of drug peddlers and enlarged them on bail as the provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act have not been complied with during the investigation of the case.
Justice Javed Iqbal Wani stayed and suspended the conviction and sentence passed by the Court of Sessions Judge in February 2019 passed in a special challan arising out of FIR No. 265/2016, of Police Station, Rajbagh, under Sections 8/15 of NDPS Act whereby the applicants were convicted and sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of 10 years and a fine of Rs. One lakh each.
Aggrieved of the conviction and sentence awarded by the trial court against the accused-Nazir Ahmad Dar and Shakir Ahmed appealed on the grounds that the conviction and sentence passed by the trial court suffers from the bias of non-application of mandatory provisions of the Act rendering the same indefeasible and that the trial court grossly misapplied the law and rights available to the accused/ applicants in terms of the Act.
It has been averred that the trial court failed to evaluate the factual gamut of the case and summarily dismissed the safeguards available to the applicants in terms of Section 42 and 50 of the Act on the ground being a chance recovery holding the said provisions not applicable to the facts and circumstances of the case.
“Prima-facie, at this stage, applicants have raised debatable issues qua the applicability and non-compliance of Sections 42 and 50 of the Act, as non-compliance of the said Sections in the facts and circumstances go to the root of the case”, Justice Iqbal recorded.
The prosecution while opposing the suspension of conviction and sentence and consequential enlargement of the applicants on bail on the premise that the they have committed serious offences while transporting huge quantity of poppy straw falling under commercial quantity under the Act, as such, does not qualify for the suspension of conviction and sentence and enlargement on bail and that enlarging the applicants on bail will encourage offenders of like nature and the applicants may get involved in repetition of the said offences.
Court said, it is admitted position that the accused were arrested on 02.12.2016 and have been under custody since then and after the conviction and sentence of the accused, the appeal stands filed against the same by the accused on 13.03.2019, which is pending disposal before this Court and that there is no likelihood of final consideration and disposal of the appeal at an early date.
The delay, court added, in non-disposal of the appeal ever since it has been filed on 13.03.2019 is not attributable to the accused as appears from the minutes of the proceedings. So much so, law is settled that appeal being a statutory right, the trial court’s verdict does not attain finality during the pendency of the appeal and for that purpose, the trial is deemed to be continuous despite conviction.
Court therefore, having regard to the facts and circumstances and without commenting on the merits of the case, deemed it appropriate for securing the ends of justice to suspend the conviction and sentence passed against the accused and to direct their release on bail subject to furnishing of personal bond of Rs. 1.00 lakh each with the two sureties of like amount before the Superintendent, District Jail, Kathua.