scorecardresearch
Follow Us:
Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Cruise ship case: Accused searched by panch witness… seizure illegal, says Mumbai Court

The court had last month granted bail to Nupur Satija, Gomit Chopra, Ishmeet Singh Chadha and Shreyas Nair. The detailed order of the bail applications was made available on Saturday.

Written by Sadaf Modak | Mumbai |
Updated: November 15, 2021 7:58:01 am
So far, 15 of the 20 arrested in the case have been granted bail – three by the Bombay High Court and 12 by the special court. (File)

In its detailed order granting bail to one of the accused arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in the cruise ship drug raid case, the special court has said that she was searched by a panch witness and not an empowered officer, which is a breach of the NDPS Act and therefore the seizure is “illegal”. The court had last month granted bail to Nupur Satija, Gomit Chopra, Ishmeet Singh Chadha and Shreyas Nair. The detailed order of the bail applications was made available on Saturday.

Satija, a 29-year-old Gurgaon resident, was arrested by the NCB, which claimed that a search in her room on the cruise had led it to an intermediate quantity of MDMA or Ecstasy pills. Satija, through her lawyers, had argued that the search was illegal, as it was carried out by a female panch witness, who is not authorised to carry out search and seizures.

It was also submitted that Satija was arrested by a male officer post-sunset without permission of the magistrate, in violation of legal procedures.

“…personal search of the accused, as well as search of room, was taken by female panch witness. Admittedly, there was no lady officer present and no panchnama was carried out by person authorised for that purpose… Search is undertaken by female panch who is not an empowered officer to effect search and therefore there is breach of section 42 of the NDPS Act,” the court said referring to the provisions related to search, seizures and arrests.

It added that Satija is entitled to be granted bail on the ground that the seizure was illegal and in breach of the NDPS Act.

While granting bail to Chopra, who the NCB alleged had provided the contraband to Satija as there were WhatsApp chats between them, the court said that chats are only regarding consumption. “Though prosecution (NCB) relied upon WhatsApp chats, it can be seen that WhatsApp chats are regarding only consumption of contraband and not regarding sell, purchase or for any other use of contraband…,” the court said.

It added that the aspects of conspiracy alleged against all the accused would be dealt with in depth during the trial. But prima facie material did not show conspiracy or abetment as alleged by NCB, the court said.

While granting bail to Chadha, who was found at the cruise terminal allegedly with 15 MDMA pills, and Nair, who is alleged to have provided the contraband, the court said that apart from a statement, the NCB had not brought on record specific evidence to show that Nair had supplied the contraband or that he was dealing in its business.

So far, 15 of the 20 arrested in the case have been granted bail – three by the Bombay High Court and 12 by the special court.

📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines

For all the latest Mumbai News, download Indian Express App.

  • Newsguard
  • The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.
  • Newsguard
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement