The Court of Appeal held in a recent judgment that the prevailing COVID-19 situation in the country does not amount to an exceptional circumstance to grant bail on a suspect arrested for trafficking large loads of heroin.

In a revision application before the Court of Appeal, a businessman engaged in the import of certain goods sought bail on two main exceptional circumstances that the illness of the suspect and the prevailing COVID 19 situation be considered justifiable circumstances to enlarge on bail.

Approximately 67.765 kg of the pure quantity of heroin was found within a container that bore the suspect’s name as its consignee.

While referring to a Court of Appeal recent judgment (CA/PHC/ APN 67/20), Justices Menaka Wijesundera and Neil Iddawalaobserved that the impact of the Coronavirus applies to all those in custody. ‘Irrespective of the placement of the individual, be it in prison or freely roaming in society, the severity of the pandemic situation puts any person with non-communicable diseases at grave danger’, the Court of Appeal judgment held.

Justice Neil Iddawala observed that ‘exceptional circumstances’ is very subjective and cannot be given a firm description. It depends and varies on the circumstances of each case.

The suspect Abdul Qadir Aboobucker is a businessman engaged in the import of certain goods such as potatoes, textile, garlic and onions from Pakistan and has been operating under a Sole Proprietorship named K.I.M.S Enterprises for several years. On March 12, 2020, one of the containers imported by the suspect was searched by the Police Narcotics Bureau in Lunuwila, and upon opening a sealed container, Police had found a gross quantity of 99 .478 kg of heroin hidden in the form of potatoes. According to the Government Analyst Report, the pure quantity of heroin was 67.765 kg. The suspect was arrested for aiding and abetting the import, trafficking, and possession of heroin under Section 54A & 54B of the Poisons, Opium and Dangerous Drugs Ordinance as amended by Act No. 13 of 1984.

The Court of Appeal observed that the quantity of heroin discovered cannot be regarded lightly. Therefore, the Court of Appeal upheld the order given by Chilaw High Court to refuse bail on the suspect.


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