August 12, 2021 4:13:46 am
IN ITS detailed order rejecting pre-arrest bail to celebrity manager Karishma Prakash in a drugs case, the special court has said that anticipatory bail cannot be granted merely on the ground that purported audio recordings show that she was being forced to change her lawyers by an officer of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) – which is probing the case – to ensure that a stringent charge is not invoked against her.
Prakash had sought anticipatory bail last year following the NCB on October 27 searching her residence, where a small quantity of charas and some bottles of CBD oil were recovered.
During hearing, Prakash had submitted a purported audio recording and transcript of a telephonic conversation between her and an NCB officer who was subsequently suspended. She had claimed that non-bailable and stringent Section 27A of the NDPS Act was invoked against her with a malafide intention.
The court has said that while it had gone through the transcription and it was a prima facie material before it, it was not sufficient to accept it. “…assuming for the sake of argument that there exists malafide on the part of the prosecution, it cannot override the merits of the case and therefore, considering the above aspect, I think that… anticipatory bail cannot be granted to the applicant merely on the ground that malafide exists…,” it added.
Prakash had claimed in her plea that she was questioned twice before the search at her home and it would be “absurd” that she would still keep contraband at her residence. She had further said that while CBD oil was medicinal in nature and available online for sale, several parties were held at her house where she stayed on rent and she could not be blamed for acts of others, which may have taken place behind her back. She also maintained that her statements were recorded 10 times by the NCB and her arrest was not required.
The NCB, relying on statements of three co-accused, has submitted remand papers in the case to claim that Prakash was linked to the offence. Prakash, however, had said that a recent Supreme Court order had rendered statements of co-accused as inadmissible and in its absence, there was no evidence against her.
“I am of the view that though statements of co-accused would not be admissible as evidence during the trial of the case, it can be considered by the court while deciding anticipatory bail application at the stage of investigation as prima facie circumstance on record and material against the applicant,” the court said.
It also accepted NCB’s contention that Prakash’s custodial interrogation was necessary as no fruitful information was furnished regarding the recovery at her home. The court has granted Prakash interim protection from arrest till August 25 so that she can appeal in the Bombay High Court.
The case was registered following the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput. In all, 33 people were arrested and chargesheeted in the case.
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