The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted bail to two who have been under trial for more than seven years for allegedly transporting 9310 Kg of Ganja.
A division bench of Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice Hrishikesh Roy noted, "Though we are conscious of that huge quantity of Ganja was seized, but at the same time keeping in mind that the petitioners have already served more than seven years in judicial custody."
The plea has been filed challenging the order of the Calcutta High Court rejecting the bail application in alleged offenses under Section 43(b) read with Section 20 of the NDPC Act. It is also alleged that the accused were dressed in Army uniforms and were carrying firearms with them.
Advocate Ashima Mandla and Advocate Mandakini Singh appearing for the petitioner relied upon the judgment passed in the case of Supreme Court Legal Aid Committee Representing Undertrial Prisoners Vs. Union of India & Ors. stating that they are entitled to a grant of bail, as they have served more than five years under judicial custody.
Whereas, ASG KM Natraj submitted that merely because they have served more than seven years in judicial custody, that by itself is not a ground for grant of bail.
However, the Court noted that Earlier in 2018, the Apex Court while dismissing the special leave petition had directed for expeditious completion of the trial. Whereas, later in 2019, the High Court had also directed the trial court to expedite the trial.
The apex Court while allowing bail noted that "In spite of various directions by this Court and the High Court for reasons beyond the control, it appears that trial is at the stage of examination of PW-1 only."
Case Title: Manoj Kumar Vs. The State of West Bengal & Anr.
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