State vs. Shajimon & Ors.: Bail Decision Under NDPS Act

In a significant judgment by the Supreme Court of India, the case of State vs. Shajimon & Ors. has been revisited regarding bail under the NDPS Act. The Court reevaluated the earlier decision on granting bail to the accused respondents. The decision is a crucial step towards upholding the provisions of the NDPS Act and ensuring justice in cases related to drug trafficking and possession. The case sheds light on the complexities of legal proceedings and the importance of adhering to the mandated regulations for bail in such serious offenses.


  • Crime No 14/2018: Accused A-1 to A-3 were found in possession of 10.202 kgs of hashish oil and currency notes worth Rs. 13,50,000 at Hotel Aquarock.
  • Accused respondent (A-5) in Crime No 14/2018 entrusted hashish oil to A-1 through A-2 for sale in the International market.
  • Crime No 14/2018 charges: Sections 20(b)(ii)(c) and Section 29 of the NDPS Act; Charge-sheet filed on 10 May, 2019.
  • Crime No 19/2018: Accused (Shajimon-A1) along with A-3(Rajesh) found in possession of 1.800 kg of hashish oil at Aristo Junction, Thiruvananthapuram.
  • Accused in Crime No 19/2018 charged under Section 20(b)(ii)(c) of the NDPS Act; Charge-sheet filed on 17 April, 2019.
  • High Court granted bail to A-1 and A-3 in Crime No. 19/2018 on 10 May, 2019 after completion of 195 days in judicial custody.
  • Learned Judge of the High Court granted post-arrest bail to Accused A based on oversight of Section 37 of the NDPS Act and release of other co-accused on bail.
  • Accused A’s bail application was rejected by the Additional Sessions Judge citing prima facie material for the offense under Section 20(b)(ii)(c) and Section 29 of the NDPS Act.
  • Accused A appealed the rejection of bail application to the High Court.

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  • The appellant-prosecution has challenged the discretion exercised by the learned Single Judge of the High Court of Kerala in granting post-arrest bail to the accused respondents.
  • The bail was granted without taking into account the mandate of Section 37(1)(b)(ii) of the NDPS Act.
  • The appellant had filed an application under Section 482 of the CrPC to recall the order of post-arrest bail, which was rejected by the High Court.
  • The learned senior counsel argued that the conditions for granting bail under Section 37(1)(b)(ii) are in addition to the limitations provided under the CrPC or any other relevant laws.
  • The counsel relied on the judgment of a three-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court in Satpal Singh Vs. State of Punjab 2018(13) SCC 813 to support his submission.
  • Accused nos. 1 to 4 were granted post-arrest bail in Crime No 14/2018 by the High Court on multiple occasions.
  • The prosecution has not challenged the bail granted to all other accused persons.
  • The bail granted to respondent (Shajimon) in Crime No 14/2018 is not interfered with.
  • The High Court considered the possibility of false implication due to prior animosity between detecting officer-colleagues.
  • No prior case against the respondent under the NDPS Act, except these two cases, was noted.
  • Hashish oil above 1 kg is considered a commercial quantity.
  • The jurisdiction of the Court to grant bail is defined by Section 37 of the NDPS Act.
  • The respondents were allegedly falsely implicated by batchmates of an excise official convicted in a corruption case.
  • Charge-sheets have been filed in both Crime No 14/2018 and Crime No. 19/2018, with framing of charges planned.
  • The learned Single Judge imposed stringent conditions for bail, which have not been misused or violated.
  • After considering Section 37 of the NDPS Act, the Single Judge was satisfied that the accused respondents deserve post-arrest bail.
  • Interference with the discretion exercised in favor of the accused respondents is deemed unwarranted.

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  • The provision in question requires facts and circumstances justifying the accused’s innocence.
  • The provision deems the offenses under the Act as cognizable and non-bailable.
  • The criminal antecedents of the accused were not known to the Court.
  • The Court’s order granting bail might have been erroneous or lacked proper application of mind.
  • If conditions of error or lack of application of mind are not met, bail is barred.
  • A post-arrest bail was granted and a subsequent application was filed to recall it under Section 482 CrPC.
  • The High Court dismissed the application to recall bail, stating that errors should be challenged in a superior forum.
  • The appellant argues that bail under the NDPS Act must have reasonable grounds to believe in the accused’s innocence and non-likelihood of committing further offenses.
  • The High Court’s liberal approach towards bail under the NDPS Act was deemed inappropriate.
  • It is noted that the Court failed to record a finding mandated by Section 37 of the NDPS Act for granting bail.
  • All offences punishable under this Act are cognizable.
  • No person accused of specific severe offences shall be released on bail or own bond.
  • Limitations on granting bail are in addition to existing limitations under the Code of Criminal Procedure or any other law.
  • Conditions for release on bail include the opportunity for the Public Prosecutor to oppose, and the court being satisfied of innocence and no likelihood of further offences.
  • The accused involved in trafficking or dealing with narcotic drugs cause deleterious effects and a deadly impact on society, especially on vulnerable young victims.
  • The activities of the underworld and smuggling of drugs have led to drug addiction, particularly among adolescents and students.
  • The Parliament, realizing the seriousness of this issue, has introduced the NDPS Act with mandatory minimum imprisonment and fines.
  • To effectively control and eradicate drug trafficking, Parliament has made provisions for mandatory imprisonment and fine under the NDPS Act.
  • Bail under the NDPS Act is restricted unless specific conditions under Section 37 are met, which require reasonable grounds to believe in the accused’s innocence and not being a threat while on bail.
  • The court must implement the provisions of the NDPS Act in the spirit intended by Parliament to address the harmful socio-economic consequences and health hazards associated with drug trafficking.
  • The question of whether the same court could reconsider the facts invoking Section 482 of the Code was raised.
  • The remedy of the State to challenge the orders of the Court lay in appealing before a superior forum, not the same court.
  • It was determined that none of the applications should be accepted based on the argument of the learned counsel for the accused.

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  • The appeals are allowed
  • The impugned order passed by the High Court releasing the respondents on bail is set aside
  • Bail bonds of the accused respondents stand cancelled
  • Accused respondents are directed to be taken into custody
  • The order of this court is maintainable under law for recall
  • The trial court is directed to proceed and expedite the trial
  • Pending application(s) stand disposed of

Case Title: STATE OF KERALA Vs. RAJESH (2020 INSC 88)

Case Number: Crl.A. No.-000154-000157 / 2020

Click here to read/download original judgement

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