Rhea Chakraborty has filed a bail application against her arrest for charges related to illicit drug trafficking. The Bombay Special Court under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (“Bombay SC“) denied the bail plea due to reasons related to the procurement of evidence about the case.
Rhea Chakraborty was summoned for questioning on 6th, 7th, and 8th September 2020 concerning allegations of illicit drug trafficking. During said questioning, Rhea revealed that she was involved in procuring the drugs, financing, and instructing Samuel Miranda, Dipesh Sawant (both Sushant’s house aids), and Showik Chakraborty in this regard. Accordingly, a case under the NDPS Act was registered against Rhea where she came to be arrested.
Satish Maneshinde, counsel for the Applicant, submitted that Rhea is an actor/model by profession. She is a well-respected member of the society who is innocent and has not committed any crime. He contended that the Applicant was falsely implicated in the case and that no narcotic drug or psychotropic substance had been seized from the Accused. In the present case, only 59 grams of marijuana have been seized, which is a small quantity.
Counsel for the Applicant further contended that Section 27-A of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act) had been incorrectly applied in the present case as the record fails to show the Applicant’s involvement in the financing of illicit trafficking of drugs. Moreover, the Applicant has not indulged in the harbouring of offenders in any manner. The only allegations against the Accused, therefore, are the procurement of drugs for her late boyfriend, Sushant Singh Rajput. The only role of the Applicant in the present case was the purchase of small quantities of drugs for Sushant. In light of this, the allegations under Section 27-A of the NDPS Act are incorrect, and the Applicant must be released on bail under Section 37 NDPS Act. As per the counsel, similar allegations were levied against Kaizan Ebrahim, but Section 27-A NDPS Act was not applied, and Kaizan was released on bail.
Also, at the time of interrogation of the Applicant, no female police officer was present, and thus her statements are hit by provisions of Section 25 of the Evidence Act. Furthermore, mere sale and purchase of drugs don’t amount to the illicit trafficking of drugs. The counsel relied on several judgments and submitted that in cases where custodial interrogation is not necessary, bail must be granted and refusal would amount to pre-conviction of the Accused. The counsel further submitted that the Applicant permanently resides in the address provided, her antecedents are clear, and she is ready to abide by all the conditions imposed by the Court. Hence, the bail application must be considered.
Counsel for the Respondents denied the contentions put forth by the Applicant stating it to be frivolous and untrue. The Applicant has been charged with Section 27-A read with Section 29 of the NDPS Act, the imprisonment for which is not less than ten years and may extend up to twenty years. The offence is non-bailable, and hence the bail application must be rejected. Although initially only 59 gms of marijuana were seized, further investigation led the police to accused Abbas Lakhani and Karn Arora. The Narcotics Control Bureau(NCB) team seized a commercial quantity of drugs from the abovementioned accused. Moreover, section 27-A makes no requirement for a particular quantity of drugs, and the prosecution only has to show that the accused has financed illegal drug trafficking. According to the Respondent’s counsel, there is ample evidence on record to show that the Applicant has indulged in illicit drug trafficking. The Applicant, in her statement, has admitted explicitly to her role in the present crime. The laptops, phones of the Accused persons contain prima facie evidence that the accused has committed the offences that she has been charged with. The Respondent stated that as the applicant had financed the drugs for Sushant, Section 27-A of the NDPS Act applied.
In response to the Applicant’s contentions of the statement being forcefully recorded, the Respondent explained that the Applicant had been protected by a lady API (Assistant Police Inspector) who accompanied the Applicant while her statement was being recorded.
In light of the aforementioned, the Respondent strongly opposed the release of the Applicant on bail as they believe that she might alert the other involved persons, which will impede the investigation.
The Court accepted the Respondent’s contention that no particular quantity of drugs was required to prove the offence under Section 27-A of the NDPS Act. The Court also observed that when the investigation was at a preliminary stage, it couldn’t be said that the statement of the Accused has been forcefully recorded. The statements of the Accused are, therefore admissible as evidence.
The Court observed that the applicant and late Sushant Singh Rajput were in a live-in relationship. It is alleged that the Accused procured drugs for Sushant, financed them, and had also asked her brother Showik to arrange for the drugs on multiple occasions. The NCB team had recovered Whatsapp chats and other electronic evidence in addition to having recovered a commercial quantity of drugs from Anuj Keshwani. As the investigation was still in the preliminary stage, it couldn’t be said that there were no reasonable grounds to connect the Applicant to the crime.
The Court noted that the Applicant had revealed the name of numerous people involved in the illicit drug trafficking and the investigation in respect of those persons was ongoing. The Respondent has contended that if the applicant is set out on bail, she might alert such persons who will impede the investigation and the Court agrees with the same. The Court directed that there is a bar to provide bail to the Applicant under Section 37 of the NDPS Act. In the abovementioned circumstances, the Court rejected the bail plea and disposed of the application.
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