Jammu and Kashmir High Court rejects an application seeking grant of Bail by an Applicant facing Trial under NDPS Act

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On 14 May 2020, Hon’ble Mr. Justice Puneet Gupta, via video-conferencing, heard the case of Mohd. Ashraf Bhat v. UT of Jammu and Kashmir and anr. The Court dismissed the application of bail sought by the applicant- accused Mohd. Ashraf on medical grounds.

Brief Facts of the Case

The applicant here is facing trial for offences under Sections 8, Section 21, and Section 29 of NDPS Act. The recovery of heroin from the applicant shows his involvement in illegal drug trafficking. Thereafter, in Bahu Fort, Jammu the FIR was registered with the Police Station. The applicant is now seeking bail on medical grounds.

Contentions of the Petitioner 

Mr. Vivek Sharma, the learned counsel for the petitioner argues the following:

As the applicant suffers from various ailments, treatment is necessary. The required treatment is not available where he is lodged (District Jail, Amphalla). The exposure of the applicant to COVID-19 is high in jail. The applicant is under treatment in the jail hospital and the final report is in waiting. Thus, the applicant requires proper medical treatment in a specialized hospital outside jail premises, if the report is a cause of concern. Thus, prayer for bail is made on medical grounds.

Contentions of the Respondents 

Mr. Aseem Sawhney, AAG, the learned counsel for the state argues the following:

The AAG submitted the medical report of the applicant dated 5-05-2020. There is no mention of a life-threatening disease in the report. The report does not mention that the applicant requires admission to the hospital for any specialized treatment. Hence, a grant of bail on medical grounds is not possible.

Court’s Analysis

The applicant’s medical report states that he is undergoing treatment for diabetes in Jail hospital. Therefore, the ailment cannot be the basis for granting bail. Further, there is no mention of any life-threatening disease in the medical record. At any stage, if the applicant requires any special medical care, it must not be denied. If necessary, he may be hospitalised. Hence, the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be a ground for bail in this case.

The presence of COVID-19 in the jail premises of the accused is also not proved. The jail authorities must have taken precautions to end the presence of COVID-19. Both the parties referred to the directions issued by the Supreme Court in the Suo Motu writ petition ‘Contagion of COVID-19’ in prisons.

The Bench comprising of Chief Justice S.A. Bobde, Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar and L. Nageswara Rao heard this case. However, the Supreme Court made it clear that the directions were not compulsory for the States/Union Territories to follow. Hence, the court feels that it is unnecessary to refer to it as the ailment of the applicant is not of such a nature that requires a grant of bail.

Also, that the decongesting of jails during the pandemic is the reason to pass the directions. The motive is not granting bail to an under-trial who is facing serious charges and having a normal ailment.

Court’s Decision

The Court held that the applicant’s ailment is not life-threatening, thus, not a ground for granting of bail. Thus the Court Dismissed the application. However, the applicant has the liberty to file a fresh application on medical grounds in the future, if required.

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