Synopsis: A Nigerian national reportedly involved in processing of contraband material has today, obtained bail from a Bombay HC as the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has failed to file a complaint within the 180-day period.
The Bombay High Court granted a default bail to a Nigerian national suspected by the Drug Control Bureau (NCB) of possessing a commercial quantity of contraband material when the agency failed to file a charge sheet within the prescribed period of time.
On December 30, 2019, NCB arrested Maduabuchi Igwe at Panvel railway station and reportedly seized from his possession 500gm of Mephedrone, 490gm of pink MDMA tablets, and 75gm of grey MDMA tablets.
Igwe moved the High Court to challenge the Special Court’s order at Panvel on 1 July 2020, granting NCB a 90-day extension to conclude the investigation and file a charge sheet pursuant to Section 36A(4) of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. The 90-day extension was granted over and above the 180-day limit period specified by Section 36-A(4) of the NDPS Act, which expired on 28 June 2020.
Advait Tamhankar, counsel of Igwe, submitted that the order passed by the Special Court was not only unfair, but was also contrary to the mandate of Section 36-A(4), as it was passed without “application of the mind.” He pointed out that no independent prosecutor’s report was submitted for seeking the extension, as required under Section 36-A (4).
Advocate Hiten Venegaonkar, who appeared for NCB, admitted that the order did not suggest that the prosecutor had made an independent request. He sought to justify the special court order, however, saying that the NCB application had the grounds for the extension.
However, Justice Prithviraj Chavan rejected the application and stated that it is very clear that Section 36-A (4) includes a report from the public prosecutor and not from the investigating officer, and that the progress of the inquiry should be indicated in the report.
HC continued that by approving the extension, the right to default bail accrued to the offender pursuant to Section 167(2) to CrPC was halted by the special court.
Observing that the Nigerian national’s freedom needed to be secured, justice Chavan granted him bail on a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh and one or two sureties.