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Saturday, October 24, 2020

No arrests, seizures in case in which Deepika Padukone summoned

On Wednesday, the NCB issued summons to actors Deepika Padukone and Rakul Preet Singh in connection with the WhatsApp chats case (15/20) against Chakraborty

Written by Mohamed Thaver | Mumbai | Updated: September 24, 2020 11:46:00 am
Deepika Padukone, Deepika Padukone drug case, Deepika Padukone whatsapp chats, bollywood drug case, Sushant Singh Rajput, rhea chakarbortyDeepika Padukone. (File)

The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has so far not made a single arrest in the FIR that had been registered against six persons, including Rhea Chakraborty, her brother Showik and four others, primarily based on Chakraborty’s WhatsApp chats purportedly discussing drugs.

Chakraborty, Showik and 17 others (three of them out on bail) are under arrest based on a second FIR, No. 16/20, registered by the NCB suo motu two days after the initial FIR (No. 15/20). The agency had told a local court that the second FIR meant to “uproot the drug citadel in Mumbai, especially Bollywood”, and claimed seizures of commercial quantities of narcotics, including LSD, from one of the arrested accused. Incidentally, when it first brought up this second FIR in court, the NCB had made no mention of Sushant Singh Rajput, adding it later.

On Wednesday, the NCB issued summons to actors Deepika Padukone and Rakul Preet Singh in connection with the WhatsApp chats case (15/20) against Chakraborty. The chats had been provided to the NCB by the Enforcement Directorate, and the agency has so far not made any seizures that could be collaborative evidence.

Also Read | Gupteshwar Pandey: In hot pursuit of Sushant Singh Rajput case, ex-DGP now eyes Bihar poll plunge

Soon after the NCB had registered that FIR, on August 26, a team had landed from Delhi in Mumbai to investigate the matter. By August 28, the agency had arrested two persons, Abbas Lakhani and Karn Arora. It was when they were produced before the court for remand that the NCB said they had been arrested under a new FIR, without mentioning the Rajput case at all.

Then, on September 3, the NCB arrested one Zaid Vilatra under the FIR No. 16/20 and said that it was “investigating the Sushant Singh Rajput case and therefore (police custody) is highly substantive and needs to be investigated thoroughly so as to uproot drug citadel in Mumbai especially in Bollywood.”

Also Read | Dirty conspiracy to defame Maharashtra: Congress on Sushant Singh Rajput death case

Since then, the NCB has arrested 16 more in the second FIR, including Chakraborty and her brother Showik, and has kept mentioning the Rajput case.

Asked why no arrests had been made in the WhatsApp case, an official said, “Rhea turned out to be the final link in the FIR directed at Bollywood drug use, while in the 15/20 FIR, she was the first accused.”

Asked about the status of the initial FIR, an NCB official justified, “We are not sure we can charge Rhea in the initial FIR as it could amount to double jeopardy since we will be charging her in the second FIR as well. So we will take legal opinion on it.”

Also Read | Rhea’s judicial custody extended till Oct 6 in drugs case; actor, brother move HC for bail

Another senior NCB official said, “In the initial FIR, we do not have seizure, so we may mostly charge her in the second FIR where there is a seizure of commercial quantity as well.”

The seizure in the second case that NCB officials are talking about is 590 gm of hashish, 0.64 gm of LSD sheets, 304 gm of marijuana, including imported marijuana joints and capsules, Rs 1,85,200 in cash and 5,000 Indonesian Rupiah reportedly seized from one of the 19 arrested.

At the same time, the NCB has all along maintained that seizure of drugs is not necessary to prove a charge of conspiracy related to supply of narcotics, under which Chakraborty has been charged. One of the grounds on which Chakraborty and Showik have sought bail is that the NCB has not shown any seizure or possession of drugs from them or mentioned the type or quantity.

Apart from Chakraborty and Showik, the initial FIR, of August 26, names Rajput’s talent manager Jaya Saha, former manager Shruti Modi and Goa-based hotelier Gaurav Arya.

Padukone and Rakul Preet Singh have been summoned by the NCB based on chats reportedly found on Saha’s phone. Actors Sara Ali Khan and Shraddha Kapoor have been called in for questioning in connection with the second FIR.

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