A landmark and groundbreaking judgement was given in the case of Muslim v. State (NCT of Delhi) by the Apex Court. The court observed “Undue delay in the trial can be a ground to grant bail to an accused, despite the rigours of Section 37 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 1985. Grant of bail on the ground of undue delay in the trial cannot be said to be fettered by Section 37 of the Act, given the imperative of Section 436A which applies to offences under the NDPS Act too.”
In the instant matter four of the appellant’s co-accused were found to have more than 100 kgs of Ganja. Bail’s plea was rejected by the High Court thus this matter travelled in appeal to the top court. A division bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Dipankar Datta relied on the judgement given in the case of Union of India v. Najeeb, in which it was held that stringent conditions under UAPA will not fetter the right of Constitutional Courts to grant bail on the ground of violation of fundamental rights.
The court further observed that “Laws which impose stringent conditions for grant of bail, may be necessary for the public interest; yet, if trials are not concluded in time, the injustice wrecked on the individual is immeasurable. Jails are overcrowded and their living conditions, more often than not, appalling. The danger of unjust imprisonment is that inmates are at risk of ‘prisonisation’. The only manner in which such special conditions as enacted under Section 37 can be considered within constitutional parameters is where the court is reasonably satisfied on a prima facie to look at the material on record that the accused is not guilty. Any other interpretation would result in complete denial of the bail to a person accused of offences such as those enacted under Section 37 of the NDPS Act.”