Taking note of the fact that an accused in a case under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act was remanded in judicial custody in 2018 and the trial was yet to commence in the case, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court observed that the petitioner’s right to speedy trial had been infringed.
Justice G.R. Swaminathan observed that the prosecution had to be called to account and must pay for the lapse.
The court directed the Narcotics Control Bureau to pay a sum of ₹1 lakh as compensation within a period of four weeks to the wife of the petitioner and the trial should be concluded within a period of three months.
The court was hearing a bail petition filed by M. Ananthan. The petitioner and two others were apprehended by the Narcotics Control Bureau, Madurai. The vehicle of the accused was intercepted near Valavanthankottai toll plaza in Thuvakudi in Tiruchi district. The contraband was seized in 2018.
The judge said the accused were remanded in judicial custody and a charge sheet was filed. The trial in the case was to begin in 2019, but did not take off. The accused were in no way responsible for the non-commencement of the trial. The High Court had not stayed the proceedings and no quash petition was filed. There was no justification whatsoever for not commencing the trial in time, the judge said.
The court said the case on hand was one under the NDPS Act and involved commercial quantities of ganja. Therefore it could not be quashed and bail also could not be granted.
The judge observed that when one of the accused in the case earlier moved the High Court for bail, the petition was dismissed with a direction to expedite the trial and conclude the same on merits within a period of six months. That period expired in 2020,.
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