The Bombay High Court reserved its orders on Tuesday on the bail pleas filed by actor Rhea Chakraborty, her brother Showik and three others in a drug case lodged following the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput after the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) submitted that the accused were involved in crimes “worse than murder or culpable homicide” and that the case should be “a lesson” for others.
A single judge bench of Justice Sarang V Kotwal conducted a day-long hearing on the bail pleas on Tuesday. On September 11, the bail pleas of Sushant’s girlfriend Rhea, his domestic help Samuel Miranda and cook Dipesh Sawant, Showik, and alleged drug peddler Abdel Basit Parihar, were rejected by the special Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act court, following which they had moved HC.
During the hearing in HC, which went on for nearly seven hours, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Anil Singh, appearing for the NCB, told the court that it will have to keep in mind the backdrop under which the NDPS Act was formulated.
“This is sort of a crime, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, which is worse than murder or culpable homicide. Murder affects one person or a family. However, this (drug cases) affects the entire society,” he said.
“We are seeing the trend going on in the country, (among) the college youngsters. This is a crime, where it should be made non-bailable. Therefore, the legislature has said that the offence will be cognizable and has not made it bailable,” he added.
Singh said the bail provisions under the Act have been made more stringent considering the kind of offences that are “destroying the structure of the society”.
Advocate Satish Maneshinde, appearing for Rhea and Showik, submitted that the investigations carried out by NCB are without jurisdiction, as the case was lodged in relation to the drug angle associated with Sushant’s death and the same could be investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as per a Supreme Court order.
Maneshinde, along with advocate Taraq Sayed, representing Parihar, submitted that the contraband recovered in the case was in small “commercial quantities” and that drugs were not found in the possession of the bail applicants. The lawyers said that the charges leveled against the applicants were bailable and sought from the court that they be released on bail.
Miranda, Sawant and Parihar also told the court that they were wrongly booked under the Act.
The NCB, in its affidavit, had said the applicants had “abetted and financed” drug transactions and therefore Section 27A of the NDPS Act, which provides punishment for financing drug trafficking and harbouring offenders, was applicable in the case.
ASG Singh said, “All persons arrested till now (20) are connected with each other and it is a syndicate. This is not a case related to Sushant Singh Rajput death. He may have been one of the consumers but the entire transaction and deal is not restricted to him.”
“Considering the brutality of the case and the overall circumstances, drug abuse needs to be controlled in the country – in all sectors, whether it is in college, schools, Bollywood or wherever,” he added.
The ASG further said: “Our leaders say that our country is dependent on the young generation. If role models in the society are doing this, others are going to follow. Then what is the future of this country? Their health should be in sound condition. We should stop somewhere. We also have sympathy for youngsters. But this should be a lesson for others also. We are not meant for this culture in our country.”
“We do not want to get our youngsters involved in drug abuse. There has to be deterrence. We will strive to see the drug peddlers and the persons involved (in the case) punished in the interest of the next generation,” he added.
After hearing the submissions till nearly 6.30 pm, Justice Kotwal said the “the judgment will have a wide reach and repercussion” and he will pass separate orders on the five bail pleas. The court went on to reserve its orders and will pronounce the rulings in due course.
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