TrialMadras High Court recently observed "Having noted that the petitioner's right to speedy trial has been infringed, I cannot wring my hands in despair," while directing the Narcotics Control Bureau (prosecution) to pay a compensation of Rs. 1 lakh to the Petitioner-accused.
A Single Bench of Justice GR Swaminathan called out the prosecution, i.e., the Narcotics Control Bureau for causing inordinate in the Petitioner's trial while hearing the bail application of one M. Ananthan, booked under the NDPS Act for possession of prohibited quantities of contraband.
The Judge noted that the Petitioner-accused had been in judicial custody since January 2018. A Final report was filed in the matter in July 2018. Cognizance of the offences was taken in August 2018. Charges were framed in December 2018. The trial was to commence in January 2019 but, for the last two years the trial did not even take off.
It observed "The accused had not filed any discharge petition. They are in no way responsible for the non-commencement of the trial. This Court had not stayed the proceedings. No quash petition was filed. There is no justification whatsoever for not commencing the trial in time. Full three years have elapsed since the date of petitioner's arrest."
"Having noted that the petitioner's right to speedy trial has been infringed, I cannot wring my hands in despair. The prosecution has to be called to account. It must pay for its lapse. I therefore direct the Narcotics Control Bureau/Prosecution to pay a sum of Rs.1.00 lakh as compensation within a period of four weeks," the Bench thus ordered.
The Single Judge said,
"The case on hand is one under NDPS Act. It involves commercial quantity of Ganja. Therefore, it cannot be quashed. Bail also cannot be granted because Section 37 of the Act is not fulfilled. At the same time, having noted that the petitioner's right to speedy trial has been infringed, I cannot wring my hands in despair."
In addition to a direction for compensation, payable to the wife of the Petitioner-accused, the Single Judge also directed the trial court should conclude the trial within a period of three months.
[Note: The bail application of the Petitioner-accused was declined on the ground that the twin tests set out in Section 37 of the NDPS Act for grant of bail are not fulfilled in this case.]