The Meghalaya High Court has granted bail to a woman who was charged under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS Act) due to her HIV-positive condition.
A bench of Justice W Diengdoh passed the order, emphasizing the need to provide special consideration to ensure proper treatment for the accused in a suitable environment given her HIV condition.
The judge stated, “The applicant is indeed suffering from HIV irrespective of the fact that the treatment given by the State may be adequate or not as the case may be, this Court is of the considered opinion that special consideration be given to the accused to get proper treatment or to recuperate from her suffering in an environment congenial to her.”
The Court also referred to a 1991 case in which the Supreme Court had granted bail to an accused suffering from HIV. In the present case, the woman was arrested on charges of possessing a commercial quantity of drugs.
While acknowledging the stringent conditions usually required for granting bail under Section 37 of the NDPS Act, the judge emphasized the importance of Article 21 of the Constitution, which pertains to the right to life and personal liberty.
The single bench noted that the HIV-positive accused needed special treatment to prevent the worsening of her condition and to safeguard her compromised immune system from potential illnesses.
Although the District Prison and Correctional Home authorities would make efforts to care for the accused while in custody, the judge recognized the physical and mental challenges faced by someone undergoing such treatment.
Consequently, the Court granted the accused special consideration and allowed her release on bail upon providing a surety of ₹1 lakh.