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Updated: Jul 15, 2022

Mr. Navkiran Singh represented a client, who was charged under section 420, 120-B, 353, 186, 307 IPC (added later on) and Section 20 and 61-A of Punjab Excise Act, 1914, for grant of Pre-Arrest bail / Anticipatory Bail from the Hon’ble High Court of Punjab and Haryana. That due to client and attorney privileges and given the Bar Council of India Rules and The Advocates Act, 1961, the full facts of the matter in detail can’t be disclosed; however, the facts pertaining to public record are being disclosed in this article as under:

The facts of the case were that the accused was charged for preparing illicit liquor by affixing fake labels on the bottles. Upon search of the alleged factory premises, a bottling chain for filling liquid, two plastic tanks alleged to be used for the purpose of storing alcohol, one blue colored plastic pipe, one tullu pump, card boxes, and empty plastic bottles of the capacity of 750ml were recovered. The said bottles were found to be 11990 in number, and the boxes were 3840 in number. All of the articles mentioned above were taken into possession by the authorities. The accused was charged for preparing illicit liquor by affixing fake labels on the bottles, which were solely based on the notion by recovering the articles mentioned above. The police had, after four days of registration of the FIR, inserted Section 307 of IPC premised on the finding that the alleged factory which was supposed to manufacture illicit alcohol could have attempted to take away lives of the citizens; hence the police officials came to infer that “attempt to murder” charges under section 307 of IPC can be made out. That such reasoning being totally absurd especially keeping in view that not even iota of evidence was found vide which it could be of any proof that there was any illicit alcohol being prepared. Not even a single substance of any liquor was found on the alleged factory premises of the accused.

Mr. Navkiran Singh vehemently argued before the Hon’ble Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High court that none of the articles recovered could be used to prepare illicit liquor. Mr. Navkiran Singh further argued that simply by recovering empty water tanks or cardboard boxes along with other irrelevant articles, it could not be inferred to submit that his client was involved in any illegal manufacturing of liquor. Mr. Singh further argued that no prima facie case could be made out against his client; hence he is entitled to the concession of Pre-arrest bail. It was an extraordinary case where the police misused its powers, without having any evidence against the accused vide which it can be said that he was involved in preparing illicit liquor. That such practice of falsely implicating individuals on a political vendetta or personal enmity is prevalent as the general public is quite aware of the modus operandi of the Police; however, this was one of a kind case, where the police simply based on the recovery of empty water tanks, Tullu Pump, empty bottles of plastic, etc., came to an understanding that all of these articles are being used for distilling illicit liquor; therefore, the accused should be charged under the relevant sections. Such a finding of the authorities being wholly preposterous and baseless without any evidence whatsoever. The Hon’ble bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, being satisfied by the arguments of Mr. Navkiran Singh and finding merit in such arguments, decided to grant the pre-arrest bail to Mr. Singh’s client vide order dated 23.07.2021. The relevant part of the judgment is being reproduced as under for the readers to go through:-

It is not disputed that no illicit liquor or any alcohol or any ingredient of illicit liquor was recovered from the premises, where raid was conducted. The mere factum of recovery of bottles or storage boxes may not ipso facto be sufficient at this stage to hold that the petitioner and his brothers were into distilling illicit liquor. As regards antecedents of the petitioner are concerned, he is not stated to be involved in any other case under Excise Act previously. In these circumstances, this Court is of the opinion that it is a fit case for grant of anticipatory bail to the petitioner. The petition, as such, is accepted. It is ordered that the petitioner, in the event of arrest, be released on bail subject to his furnishing personal bonds and surety bonds to the satisfaction of Arresting/Investigating Officer. However, the petitioner shall join the investigation as and when called upon to do so and cooperate with the Investigating Officer and shall also abide by the conditions as provided under Section 438 (2) Cr.P.C.

23.07.2021 (Gurvinder Singh Gill)


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