The Bombay High Court Thursday directed the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) to respond to bail pleas by actor Rhea Chakraborty and her brother Showik in a drug case filed by the agency in connection with the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput. The HC has posted the next hearing to September 29 along with three other bail pleas by the co-accused.
A special Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act court had on Tuesday extended actor Rhea Chakraborty’s judicial custody till October 6 in the case. Chakraborty and her brother Showik, meanwhile, had moved bail applications before the Bombay High Court which were heard today. Their bail pleas were earlier rejected by the special NDPS court on September 11.
In her plea before the HC, Chakraborty has alleged a “witch-hunt” by the NCB at the instance of central agencies which have mandate in “investigation of international ramifications” but have found no evidence against her. Rhea also alleged that she and her brother were used by Sushant Singh Rajput to procure drugs for him and that he “took advantage of those closest to him to sustain his drug habit” and that he was the only consumer of the drugs.
Advocate Satish Maneshinde for Rhea submitted that he would be challenging the jurisdiction of NCB to investigate the case.
He argued, “The investigations by NCB are without jurisdiction and illegal in view of the fact that the case is in relation to drug angle in the death of Sushant Singh Rajput as per NCB. The Supreme Court order of August 19 had directed that all cases in relation to the death case be transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).”
Therefore, the investigations by NCB are illegal, he said. He further said that CBI can also conduct investigations under the NDPS Act.
Maneshinde further said that Section 27A of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, which provides punishment for financing drug trafficking and harbouring offenders was not applicable in present case, adding that the law applies only to commercial quantities and offences in relation to Rhea “at worst” are of small quantity and nothing has been seized from her.
When the two bail pleas came up for hearing before single-judge bench of Justice Sarang V Kotwal, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, appearing for the NCB, said that he was not served with the petition copies and sought time from the HC to respond to bail pleas.
Singh submitted that he would respond to all contentions raised by the applicants along with various past judgements of the High Courts and the Supreme Court during the next hearing and he would file a short affidavit in reply to the bail pleas. The Court asked NCB to provide the copy of the affidavit to Rhea’s lawyer before the next hearing.
Last week, while hearing the bail applications of Rajput’s housekeeper Samuel Miranda and two others, a single bench of Justice Sarang V Kotwal sought clarity on the applicability of Section 27A and other sections with the accused claiming that no drugs were seized from them. The three applications were fixed for hearing on September 29.
The bail application of another accused Zaid Vilatra will be heard by October 1 with the single bench of Justice Revati Mohite-Dere directing the NCB on Monday to file a reply.
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