HC grants bails to truck driver after custody of two and a half years in opium case

After being in custody for two and a half years, a truck driver, who was arrested allegedly with 9 kg opium by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), has been granted bail by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The accused-petitioner Ram Lal, had been arrested on December 22 in 2020 under Sections 8, 18, 27-A, 28, 29 & 60 of NDPS 1985 by NCB Chandigarh.

According to the prosecution, the complaint was lodged in the present case against the petitioner and the others on the ground that on December 21, 2020, a secret information was received that a person namely, Hardeep Singh, was involved in the opium smuggling, and had taken a huge quantity of opium from a person of Jharkhand on December 14, 2020 and was bringing the consignment in his truck.

The prosecution further said that a team of NCB officials was constituted, and on December 22, 2020, a truck was asked to stop and two persons were found sitting in the truck. The truck was taken into possession and the driver – Ram Lal and Hardeep Singh – owner of the truck were identified. On search of the truck, 9 kg of opium was recovered from the tool box, the prosecution alleged.

The counsel for petitioner contended that the petitioner was only the driver of the truck and has been falsely involved in the present crime. He further claimed that the petitioner was not aware of the presence of the contraband in the tool box and was working as a paid driver.

The counsel for NCB, however, opposed the grant of concession of bail to the petitioner on the ground that the quantity of contraband recovered is commercial in nature. He contended that the petitioner was aware of the fact that the alleged contraband was being transported in the vehicle.

Hearing the matter, the high court said that no doubt, the quantity recovered from the petitioner is commercial in nature and the stringent provisions of Section 37 of the NDPS Act would apply. However, it is evident that the petitioner is in custody for the last more than two and a half years and even the trial is yet to formally commence as the next date of hearing is fixed on August 2, 2023 for framing of charges, the court noted.

The court thus ordered the petitioner to be released on bail subject to his furnishing bail bonds/ surety bonds to the concerned authorities.

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