Bombay HC grants bail to Rhea, says not part of drug syndicate

Bombay HC grants bail to Rhea, says not part of drug syndicate

REJECTING ALL arguments of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) point by point, including the key allegations that she was part of a “drug syndicate” and was “harbouring” actor Sushant Singh Rajput, the Bombay High Court Wednesday granted bail to actor Rhea Chakraborty “with stringent conditions”, nearly a month after she was arrested in a drugs case arising from Rajput’s suicide on June 14.

Chakraborty was granted bail on a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh with sureties, while the High Court rejected the bail pleas of her brother Showik and alleged drug peddler Abdel Basit Parihar in the case. The Bench also granted bail to Rajput’s cook Dipesh Sawant and his domestic help Samuel Miranda on a personal bond of Rs 50,000 each and other conditions.

The High Court had reserved its orders in the case following a hearing on September 29 after the NCB opposed the bail pleas and submitted that the accused were involved in crimes “worse than murder or culpable homicide” and that the case should be a “lesson” for others.

Chakraborty, who was in a relationship with Rajput, was arrested by the NCB on September 8 on charges that she was part of a drug syndicate operating in Mumbai. Her brother Showik was arrested on September 4.

Chakraborty had approached the High Court after her bail plea was rejected by the special court hearing the case. Since her arrest, she was lodged in a Byculla jail cell, with the special court Tuesday extending her judicial custody till October 20. She was released Wednesday evening following the High Court order.

Ruling on Chakraborty’s plea, Justice Sarang V Kotwal, who passed separate orders for the five accused, stated: “She is not part of the chain of drug dealers. She has not forwarded the drugs allegedly procured by her to somebody else to earn monetary or other benefits…(there is) nothing at this stage to show Rhea had committed any offence involving commercial quantity of contraband.”

The ruling also stated that “since she has no criminal antecedents, there are reasonable grounds for believing that she is not likely to commit any offence while on bail”.

Justice Kotwal also disagreed with the NCB’s argument that celebrities and role models should receive “harsh” punishment so that it sets an “example” for the young generation.

The judge said: “Everybody is equal before the law. No celebrity or role model enjoys any special privilege before the court of law. Similarly, such a person also does not incur any special liability when he faces law in the courts.” Each case will have to be decided on its own merits, irrespective of the status of the accused, the court said.

The NCB, through Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, had told the court that Chakraborty had bought drugs for and “concealed” Rajput’s drug habit, and hence Section 27A of the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, mandating punishment for financing drug trafficking and harbouring offenders, was applicable.