Photo Credit: National Herald.

Bombay HC’s “wide-ranging” observations in Rhea Chakraborty bail matter can render NDPS Act “meaningless”, says NCB; SC to hear the matter next week

THE Supreme Court Thursday permitted the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) to amend their petition appropriately to challenge the order granting bail to actor  Rhea Chakraborty in a narcotics case related to the death by suicide of actor Sushant Singh Rajput.

At the outset, Solicitor General, Tushar Mehta, for NCB, submitted that he was not challenging the bail granted to Rhea but was against some wide-ranging observations made by the Bombay High Court which could make the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 meaningless.

“You have not challenged the bail. We find the new things you do very difficult to understand. You cannot file a petition challenging the observations. You can only challenge the order. These observations in a bail order are prima facie,” the Chief Justice of India S A Bobde shot back in response.

SG Mehta then sought to amend the petition, which the court allowed. The matter is now likely to be heard on Monday.

In October last year, the Bombay High Court granted bail to actor Rhea Chakraborty who had been in jail for over one month in an alleged drug case linked to Sushant Singh Rajput’s death.

Justice Sarang V Kotwal held that there were reasonable grounds to believe that Chakraborty was not guilty of any offence punishable under Sections 19, 24 or 27A of Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS) or any other offence involving commercial quantities of narcotics.

“There are no other criminal antecedents against her. She is not part of the chain of drug dealers. She has not forwarded the drugs allegedly procured by her to somebody else to earn monetary or other benefits. Since she has no criminal antecedents, there are reasonable grounds for believing that she is not likely to commit any offence while on bail,” Justice Kotwal held.

The high court took note of the fact that the investigation did not reveal the recovery of any drugs either from Chakraborty or from Sushant Singh Rajput’s house.

The material at the highest, the high court said, shows that she has committed an offence involving contraband, but, the crucial element of incurring the rigours of Section 37 of the NDPS in respect of the commercial quantity of narcotics was missing.

The court also rejected the allegations that Chakraborty was “harbouring” Sushant Singh Rajput. The person charged with harbouring the main offender “should have supplied him with shelter, food etc.; the next requirement was that that second person should have done this to prevent the main offender’s apprehension.”

Three months after the bail order, the NCB chose to challenge the Bombay HC’s interpretations of some provisions of the NDPS Act, which, the NCB, said could render the statute meaningless.