In a special leave petition filed by the appellant Sheru for grant of bail, the Supreme Court considered it appropriate given the facts and circumstances, to enlarge the appellant on bail on terms and conditions to the satisfaction of the Trial Court.
The learned senior counsel for the appellant submitted that the appellant has been in custody for almost 8 years and despite this court's direction to treat the case at priority, the matter has not reached for hearing. Therefore, the petitioner prayed for suspension of sentence and grant of bail. However, the learned Additional Solicitor General for the respondent contends that the normal principle of a large period having already been served during the pendency of the appeal cannot be a ground to suspend the sentence and grant bail, in view of the stringent provisions of Section 37 of the NDPS Act. Reliance was placed on the judgement of Union of India v. Rattan Mallik Habul - (2009) 2 SCC 624.
The bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Justice Aniruddha Bose, and Justice Krishna Murari, held that there is no doubt that the rigors of Section 37 would have to be met before the sentence of a convict is suspended and bail granted and mere passage of time cannot be a reason for the same. However, noting the current pandemic and earlier orders passed by the court for release of persons on bail to de-congest the jail in cases of up to 7 years sentences, the court, in the aforesaid facts and circumstances of the case, considered it appropriate to enlarge the appellant on bail on terms and conditions to the satisfaction of the Trial Court.
The order was clarified at the insistence of the learned Additional Solicitor General, that the order has been passed in the given facts of the case and not to be treated as a precedent. The Apex Court dismissed the appeal and the connected matters.