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2023 (7) TMI 76 - KERALA HIGH COURT
Seeking enlargement on regular bail - bailable offence or not - import of gold, the market price of which exceeds Rupees One Crore - offence under section 135 of the Customs Act, 1962 - HELD THAT:- The word 'person' appearing in section 135 of the Act should not be given a narrow interpretation to defeat the legal provision. Thus, if more persons than one act in concert with each other to evade or attempt to evade customs duty, the combined value of the articles can be treated as the value of goods imported by each such person. The collection of such persons will have to be treated as falling within the term 'any person' in section 135 of the Act.
The quantity collectively carried by the petitioners can be treated as the quantity carried by each of them individually for ascertaining the value of goods imported. Considering the circumstances of the case, it is held, for the purpose of this bail application, that petitioners were carrying gold individually worth more than Rs. 1.20 Crores, and hence the offence alleged against them is a non-bailable offence.
Be that as it may, petitioners were arrested on 18.05.2023, and they have been in custody since then. The interrogation of the petitioners ought to have been completed by now. The second petitioner is a lady and is the mother of four young children. She claims to have been induced by her husband and his cousin to act as a carrier for remuneration. Both parents of those four children are under custody. The youngest of the four children is a four-year-old. Taking into reckoning the aforesaid circumstances and the period of detention already undergone from 18-05-2023, this Court is of the opinion that further detention of the second petitioner is not essential for the purpose of an effective investigation. Therefore the second petitioner is entitled to be released on bail.
However, as far as the first petitioner is considered, though the investigation has proceeded significantly, he is stated to be not cooperating. The first petitioner is the person who allegedly induced the second petitioner also to act as a carrier. The first accused is allegedly a cousin of the first petitioner. The first accused is stated to be involved in several smuggling activities. More information is yet to be obtained regarding the antecedents of the first accused. Non-cooperation of the first petitioner is prejudicing the investigation - the first petitioner is not entitled to be released on bail at this juncture.
The bail application of the first petitioner is dismissed, and that of the second petitioner is allowed on the conditions imposed - bail application is allowed in part.