The Bombay High Court Wednesday granted bail to actor Rhea Chakraborty who has been in jail for over one month in an alleged drug case linked to the alleged suicide of actor Sushant Singh Rajput.
Justice Sarang V Kotwal held that there were reasonable grounds to believe that Rhea 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 Court took note of the fact that the investigation did not reveal the recovery of any drugs either from Rhea or from Sushant Singh Rajput’s house.
The material at the highest, the 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 Rhea 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.”
In the present case, the Court held, no criminal case or FIR was pending against Sushant Singh Rajput. He was residing in his own house and was paying for his own food and other necessities. He had no apprehension of any arrest at that point of time. Therefore, the act on the part of the applicant cannot be stretched to attract allegations of harbouring Sushant Singh Rajput, the Court said.
It also rejected the argument of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) that celebrities and role models should be treated harshly so that it sets an example for the younger generation and are not encouraged to commit such offences. Everybody is equal before the law, Justice Kotwal said.
“No celebrity or role model enjoys any special privilege before the court of law. Similarly, such person also does not incur any special liability when he faces law in the courts. Each case will have to be decided on its own merits irrespective of the status of the accused”, Justice Kotwal said.
The allegations and material against Rhea are that on some occasions she had used her own money in procuring drugs. She facilitated the procuring of drugs through her brother. The employees of Sushant Singh Rajput were also used for that purpose.
The Court directed Rhea to deposit her passport with the investigation agency and to provide her itinerary to the Investigating Officer in advance. She will not leave the country without prior permission from the Special Judge for NDPS in Greater Mumbai, the HC said, while granting her bail.
It also turned down the request of NCB to stay the judgment for a week so that it can file an appeal in the Supreme Court.
Advocate Satish L. Maneshinde represented Rhea Chakraborty before the High Court.