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The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted bail to a helper in a truck who was accused under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, after the Odisha government failed to file its response to his plea for relief. A bench of justices S K Kaul and Abhay S Oka noted that the accused has been in custody for more than 18 months. It said the notice was issued in October, despite that the state counsel did not file a reply.

“We find that the notice was served on October 26, 2022 and yet learned counsel for the respondent states today that the State has only instructed him yesterday. If the State has no time to issue instructions in time, then we have no time to wait for the State,” the bench said.

The top court noted that the accused was only a Khalasi of the vehicle who did not run away while the others fled and have still not been apprehended.

“He has been in custody from March 21, 2021 i.e. more than a year and a half. In view of the aforesaid facts and circumstances, we grant bail to the appellant on terms and conditions to the satisfaction of the trial court,” it said.

The counsel for the petitioner had submitted that the accused is a victim of the circumstances as he was only a helper in the truck, as such conscious and exclusive possession cannot be attributed to him.

The high court had earlier rejected his bail plea noting that the police had recovered 280 kgs of the contraband.


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