In a recent development, the Punjab and Haryana High Court approved default bail for three individuals implicated in a drug-related case. The basis for this decision was the absence of the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) report in the police's charge sheet for the case.
Justice Vikas Suri noted a ongoing debate regarding the completeness of a chargesheet filed under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (Act) when it lacks an accompanying FSL report. The matter is currently under consideration by both a Full Bench of the High Court and the Supreme Court, as informed to the judge.
However, Justice Suri decided to grant default bail in the present case, taking into account that the accused individuals had already spent over nine months in jail.
The High Court also cited the precedent set in the case of Arif Khan vs. State (Govt. of NCT of Delhi) where the Supreme Court granted default bail due to the absence of an FSL report alongside the chargesheet. This precedent was relied upon by the High Court in granting default bail in the current case as well.
Further, the judge explicitly clarified that if either the Full Bench of the High Court or the Supreme Court rules in favor of the prosecution on the broader issue of whether a chargesheet remains incomplete without the FSL report, the prosecution retains the right to request a review of the bail order.
In the case brought before the High Court involving an NDPS case in Faridabad, the dispute arose when the police filed the final report without the FSL report on April 28. Initially, the trial court denied the accused statutory default bail, leading to an appeal before the High Court. The key question revolved around whether the accused had the right to seek statutory bail despite the absence of the FSL report in the challan.
The prosecution contended that the chargesheet shouldn't be deemed incomplete solely due to the absence of the FSL report.
Earlier Justice Suri highlighted High Court rulings that upheld an accused's entitlement to default bail when the chargesheet lacked an FSL report, consistent with a 2021 ruling as well. However, a larger bench reference from September 2020 on the completeness of such chargesheets was still pending in the High Court. Additionally, the matter was also under consideration in the Supreme Court.
After considering various casess, the Court ultimately decided to grant default bail to the accused, given their prolonged detention of over nine months.
Senior Advocate Dr Anmol Rattan Sidhu with Advocate Pranshul Dhull, and Advocates Kamal K. Chaudhary, Johan Kumar represented the petitioners (accused). Deputy Advocate General Pawan Jhanda represented the State of Haryana.
Case Title - Taswwar Khan versus State of Haryana
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