BY QUAID NAJMI
Mumbai, Oct 7 (IANS) The Bombay High Court has granted conditional bail to Bollywood actress Rhea Chakraborty, and two others, but rejected the bail plea of her brother Showik, her lawyer Satish Maneshinde said here on Wednesday.
Justice S.V. Kotwal, who had completed the hearing on the bail applications on September 29 and reserved his ruling, pronounced the much-anticipated order this morning.
The Court granted bail of Rs one Lakh to Rhea, and for Rs 50,000 each to Dipesh Sawant and Samuel Miranda.
However, Justice Kotwal rejected the bail pleas by Showik Chakraborty and Abdul Basit Parihar.
The five accused had sought bail from the high court after the Special NDPS Court here rejected their applications last month.
They were among the 20 arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in connection with the drugs angle probe into the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput.
Arrested by the NCB late night on September 8 in the drug related case, Rhea has spent 28 days in custody till date, though she was sent to extended judicial custody by a Special NDPS Court till October 20, on Tuesday.
Additional Solicitor-General Anil Singh, appearing on behalf of NCB pleaded for a stay on the operation of the order, but Justice Kotwal declined it.
Rhea and Showik’s advocate Maneshinde, and lawyers for the other co-accused Rajendra Rathod, Tariq Sayed and Subhodh Desai had strongly argued in the case of bail for their clients.
Among other things, they contended that the NCB lacked jurisdiction to probe the matter in view of the Supreme Court order of August 19 directing to hand over all investigations in the Sushant case to the CBI, the offences under which the accused were nabbed by the NCB were bailable and the charges under the NDPS Act Section 217A against the accused did not have supporting evidence.
Countering the defence lawyers’ arguments, Singh maintained that the NCB had jurisdiction in the probe and had sufficient evidence to prove that the accused were part of a larger narcotics syndicate.
Welcoming the court order this morning, Maneshinde said, “Truth and justice have prevailed and ultimately the submissions on facts and law have been accepted by Justice Kotwal.
“The arrest and custody of Rhea was totally unwarranted and beyond the reach of law. The hounding and witch hunt by three Central agencies — the CBI, ED and NCB — of Rhea should come to an end. We remain committed to Truth. Satyameva Jayate,” said Maneshinde.
Among the conditions listed for Rhea’s bail were depositing her passport with the NCB, reporting to the local police station daily for 10 days, not leaving Mumbai without informing the NCB, etc.
Similarly, Sawant and Miranda have also been asked to submit their passports as per the conditions.
In an unprecedented swoop to “uproot the Bollywood drug citadel”, the NCB had made the sensational arrest of Rhea, Showik, drug peddlers and narcotics suppliers, and persons linked with the film industry during August-September in connection with the drugs angle which surfaced during the investigations of Sushant’s death case.
The 18 others arrested till September-end are: Dipesh Sawant, Samuel Miranda, Abbas Lakhani, Karan Arora, Zaid Vilatra, Abdul Basit Parihar, Kaizan Ebrahim, Anuj Keswani, Ankush Arenja, Kamarjeet Singh Anand, Sanket Patel, Sandeep Gupta, Aftab Ansari, Dwyane Fernandes, Suryadeep Malhotra, Chris Costa, Rahil Vishram and Kshitij R. Prasad.
Some of the accused have been granted bail, others remain in custody for varying periods as the NCB probe continues along with questioning of several leading actresses.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org)