One of the major charges facing actor Rhea Chakraborty is Section 27A of the NDPS Act, under which one can be sent to jail for a maximum of 20 years for financing illicit traffic and harbouring offenders.
The NCB had claimed that since Rhea paid for drugs procured for her boyfriend and actor Sushant Singh Rajput, it amounted to financing illicit traffic and since she knew about his consumption of the drug, she had “harboured” him, making Section 27 A applicable on her.
The Bombay High Court dealt with this in detail. To interpret the section, the court referred to statements on objectives and reasons behind the amendment of NDPS Act in 1989. The court said that the statement mentioned that India was facing a problem of transit traffic in illicit drugs. Drugs procured from a source would be brought here before being sent to other countries. The spillover from such traffic was causing problems of abuse and addiction in the country. The law was then amended to make it stronger and a separate section on “financing and harbouring” such activities was added.
The court said that while financing is not defined in the Act, it would necessarily refer to some activities involving illegal trade or business.
“The allegations against the applicant (Rhea) of spending money in procuring drugs for Rajput, will not, therefore, mean she had financed illlicit traffic,” the court said. It also said that harbouring someone would require it to be evading their arrest. Since Rajput was residing in his own house and had no apprehension of being arrested in any case, Rhea cannot be said to have harboured him.
It also accepted the defence lawyers’ submissions that if this interpretation of the section was to be applied, a friend or a relative paying for a consumption would get a 20-year punishment than the person who is consuming the drug, who would get away with a one-year punishment.
The court said that the section is to attack illicit drug trafficking but does not extend to sentencing another accused more severely than the main offender.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines