Antipatory Bail in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS Act) : Section 24 : Punishment for external dealings in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances in contravention of section 12 – in Punjab and Haryana High Court at Chandigarh

Overview of Section 24 of the NDPS Act

The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of 1985 is a critical legislation in India designed to combat the menace of illegal drugs and their trafficking. Section 24 of the NDPS Act pertains to the presumption of culpable mental state, which plays a significant role in the prosecution of drug-related offenses.

Under this provision, when a person is accused of an offense under the NDPS Act, it is presumed that they had the necessary mental state—namely, intention, knowledge, and reason to believe—to commit the offense. This presumption is not absolute; it is open to the accused to rebut it. Nevertheless, the burden is on the accused to prove that they did not have the required mental state at the time of the commission of the offense.

The rationale behind this presumption is to place a greater onus on individuals found in possession of illegal substances to account for their possession. Since drug trafficking operates on secrecy and illicitness, proving the mental state of an accused could be a challenging task for prosecution without this legal presumption.

It is relevant to note the legal implications of Section 24 of the NDPS Act. Accused individuals need to prepare a concrete defense strategy that can demonstrate the lack of the presumed mental state in relation to the drug offense they are charged with. This shift in the burden of proof from prosecution to defense makes the understanding of Section 24 essential for anyone involved in NDPS Act-related legal proceedings.

The Process of Obtaining Anticipatory Bail in NDPS Cases

When an individual fears arrest under the NDPS Act and seeks to apply for anticipatory bail, the procedure is not straightforward. The application for anticipatory bail is made under Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), but the provisions of the NDPS Act add complexity to the procedure due to the severity of the offenses and stringent bail conditions.

The process begins with the individual approaching a competent lawyer with experience in dealing with NDPS cases. The lawyer will draft an anticipatory bail application, stating reasons why the individual believes there is a reason for arrest, and why they should be granted bail.

  • The applicant or their lawyer must demonstrate that they are not a flight risk and are willing to comply with any conditions set forth by the court.
  • The applicant must show they have a legitimate reason to believe they may be arrested on the accusation of having committed a non-bailable offense under the NDPS Act.
  • The counsel for the applicant will need to argue that, if apprehended, the applicant is not likely to tamper with evidence or influence witnesses.
  • It is critical to provide evidence that the applicant has a clean criminal record or that the context of the alleged offense does not warrant detention.

What makes obtaining anticipatory bail under NDPS cases particularly challenging is the stringent nature of the Act. Given the gravity of drug abuse and trafficking, the courts tend to take a stringent view and may not be inclined to grant anticipatory bail unless the applicant makes a convincing case.

Anticipatory bail in the context of the NDPS Act is not the norm but an exception and is granted in rare and exceptional cases.

In the event the court agrees to entertain the application, the prosecution will be given a chance to oppose the bail. The prosecution may argue based on the merits of the case, the nature and gravity of the offense, the character of the evidence, and the applicant’s propensity for causing harm to the society if released on bail.

  • If the court finds merit in the anticipatory bail application and the arguments presented, it may impose certain conditions upon granting bail, such as:
    • A requirement for the applicant to make themselves available for interrogation by the police as and when required.
    • A restriction on travel outside the jurisdiction of the court without prior permission.
    • Mandate to surrender their passport to ensure they do not leave the country.

Securing anticipatory bail under NDPS cases requires an in-depth understanding of the Act, persuasive legal arguments rooted in factual evidence, and the ability to alleviate the concerns of the court regarding the gravity of the offense and the need for custody.

Case Law: Anticipatory Bail Under NDPS Act in Punjab and Haryana High Court

In the realm of case law, one can find various judgements where the Punjab and Haryana High Court has deliberated upon petitions for anticipatory bail under the NDPS Act. These cases elucidate the court’s approach and interpretations and serve as guiding precedents for subsequent matters.

A notable judgement that reflects the High Court’s stance on anticipatory bail in NDPS cases is one where the court denied anticipatory bail to an individual accused of possessing a commercial quantity of narcotic substances. The court underlined the severity of the offense, concentrating on factors such as the quantum of drugs seized and the potential harm to society at large.

Conversely, there have been instances where the High Court has granted anticipatory bail, taking into account the peculiar facts of the case. In such instances, the court typically considers:

  • The nature and role of the accused in the offense.
  • The likelihood of the accused absconding or evading the trial process.
  • Possibilities of tampering with evidence or influencing witnesses.
  • Antecedents or past criminal record of the accused.

In another illustrative judgment, the court provided relief through anticipatory bail to an individual after considering the minimal quantity of contraband involved and the background of the accused. The decision reflected an understanding that not all offenses under the NDPS Act may warrant detention, particularly when the risk to society is deemed low, and the accused demonstrates the intention to adhere to the legal process.

However, it is clear from the spectrum of judgments that the Punjab and Haryana High Court places great emphasis on the prevention of drug abuse. Often this results in a reluctance to grant anticipatory bail, especially in scenarios involving large quantities of narcotics or indications of commercial trafficking or manufacturing operations.

The court, even when granting bail, tends to impose strict conditions to mitigate the risk of flight, or other acts that might undermine the legal proceedings. These conditions often require the accused to:

  • Be present during all hearings unless specifically exempted by the court.
  • Avoid any contact with potential witnesses or co-accused to prevent influencing their testimony.
  • Report to the nearest police station at specified intervals until the trial is concluded.

It is evident that the Punjab and Haryana High Court treats anticipatory bail petitions under the NDPS Act with intense scrutiny, reflecting the strict nature of the Act itself and the serious impact drug crimes have on society. The jurisprudence created through various rulings continues to shape the application of anticipatory bail within the bounds of the NDPS Act, demanding that the courts balance the individual’s rights with societal interest.


List of Most Recommended Lawyers:


1. Advocate Vikram Mehta
  • Experience: more than 20 years
  • Expertise: Quashing matters
  • Practice Area: Criminal Lawyer

2. Advocate Pooja Choudhary
  • Experience: more than 25 years
  • Expertise: Quashing matters
  • Practice Area: Criminal Lawyer

3. Advocate Dhruv Reddy
  • Experience: more than 35 years
  • Expertise: Quashing matters
  • Practice Area: Criminal Lawyer

4. Advocate Arnav Mehra
  • Experience: more than 40 years
  • Expertise: Quashing matters
  • Practice Area: Criminal Lawyer

5. Advocate Aarav Khatri
  • Experience: more than 30 years
  • Expertise: Quashing matters
  • Practice Area: Criminal Lawyer

6. Advocate Virat Mathur
  • Experience: more than 50 years
  • Expertise: Quashing matters
  • Practice Area: Criminal Lawyer

7. Advocate Aarav Gupta
  • Experience: more than 30 years
  • Expertise: Quashing matters
  • Practice Area: Criminal Lawyer

8. Advocate Avisha Gupta
  • Experience: more than 25 years
  • Expertise: Quashing matters
  • Practice Area: Criminal Lawyer

9. Advocate Ahaan Sharma
  • Experience: more than 20 years
  • Expertise: Quashing matters
  • Practice Area: Criminal Lawyer

10. Advocate Vihaan Gupta
  • Experience: more than 45 years
  • Expertise: Quashing matters
  • Practice Area: Criminal Lawyer