NCB opposes Rhea, Showik Chakraborty's bail plea, cites SC remark terming dealing in drugs 'worse than murder'
The agency also said that the siblings were 'active members of a drug syndicate that was connected with high society personalities and drug suppliers', and could hamper the probe if they are released on bail
The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has opposed the bail pleas filed by actor Rhea Chakraborty and her brother Showik Chakraborty in the Bombay High Court, citing a Supreme Court remark which termed dealing in drugs as "worse than murder or culpable homicide".
ASG Singh: This is a sort of crime, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, which worse than murder or culpable homicide. Murder affects one person or one family. But this (drug cases) affects the entire society.#BombayHighCourt#NCB#RheaChakroborty
— Bar & Bench (@barandbench) September 29, 2020
The siblings were "active members of a drug syndicate that was connected with high society personalities and drug suppliers", the NCB said.
The NCB further said that both Rhea and her brother had "abetted and financed" drug transactions. Therefore, the agency had booked them under the stringent Section 27A of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, it said in the affidavit.
Section 27A provides punishment for up to 10 years for financing drug trafficking and harbouring offenders, and also carries a bar on grant of bail.
However, lawyers of the accused arguing for bail claim said that the prosecution has no grounds to slap the stringent Section 37 of the NDPS Act of 1989. The lawyers for Samuel Miranda, Abdul Basit Parihar and Rhea and Showik argued that the quantity of contraband seized should be taken into account, while adding that the NCB could not prove sale, purchase or financing of commercial quantity of drugs.
The offences listed under the NDPS Act are non-bailable, whereas bail may be granted if the accused are charged under less stringent sections of the CrPC.
Maneshinde reads out a case ruling that says that bail cannot be granted if the drugs seized is of a "commercial quantity."
But if it the contraband is of small quantity, the same would not come in the folds of Section 37, NDPS Act, the case says#RheaChakraborty
— Bar & Bench (@barandbench) September 29, 2020
A single judge bench of Justice Sarang V Kotwal hearing the matter, however, contended that even if the Section 37 of the NDPS Act is not applicable to the current case, it still does not mean that the offences become bailable. The aforementioned section lists out offences that are deemed non-bailable under the NDPS Act.
But Showik and Rhea's lawyer Satish Maneshinde argued that when the entire case of prosecution is that the only person consuming drugs is Sushant Singh Rajput, and when that person is no longer around, there is nothing to show that Rhea was an "active member of the cartel". He claimed that there is no evidence to support that she ever sold or purchased drugs.
The NCB, however, contended that it is clear that the drugs which were financed were not meant for personal consumption but for supplying the same to other person (SSR in this case) and Section 27A of NDPS 1985 is clearly applicable.
The investigating agency also told the court that the investigations are at a crucial stage and if Rhea is granted bail, then it will hamper the probe.
On previous hearings, the actor and her brother opposed the application of the above section in their case, arguing that the section did not apply in the present case as Rhea occasionally paid for drugs that were consumed only by her boyfriend, late actor Sushant Singh Rajput.
He had further argued that the drugs seized by the NCB so far in the case amounted to just 59 grammes, which wasn't a commercial quantity, therefore, Section 27A should not be applied in their case.
On 24 September, the bench had suggested that the NCB file its reply to the bail pleas of Rhea Chakraborty and her brother, who were arrested earlier this month and are currently in judicial custody.
The court had also said that the NCB must elaborate on the provisions of Section 27A and its applicability in the present case.
NCB's zonal director Sameer Wankhede on Monday submitted two separate affidavits in the high court wherein it said, "Electronic evidence such as WhatsApp chats, records were retrieved from mobile, laptop and hard-disk and it indicated payment made for drugs."
"Thus, there is ample evidence to show present applicant Rhea has not only regularly dealt with but also financed illicit trafficking of drugs," the NCB said.
The NCB further said in the affidavit that Rhea was aware of the fact that Rajput was into consumption of drugs, and yet she had "harboured and concealed" it.
"If somebody known to me is consuming drugs... consumption is illegal... and I am not telling this to anyone... not disclosing it to police... then it can be brought under the definition of 'harbouring'(under Section 27A)," the NCB told the court.
"Rhea also allowed her residence for drug storage and consumption by Rajput. It is clear from the statements and electronic evidence gathered by the NCB that the applicant is an active member of the drug syndicate connected with high society personalities and drug suppliers. There is sufficient evidence that she is involved in drug trafficking," it added.
It also said that Rhea and her brother used to facilitate drug deliveries and payment through credit cards, cash and other payment gateways.
If the siblings are released on bail, they could hamper the probe that is currently in a "crucial stage", the NCB said.
The high court will hear the bail pleas of the actor and her brother along with the bail pleas of co-accused Samuel Miranda, Abdul Parihar and Dipesh Sawant on Tuesday.
Rajput (34) was found hanging in his home in suburban Bandra on 14 June.
With inputs from PTI
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