As investigation into the Mumbai cruise drug case continues, the Bombay High Court has continued its hearing of accused Aryan Khan's bail plea
In light of this, let's take a look at what the High Court observed while granting bail to actor Rhea Chakraborty in a drugs case related to her boyfriend Sushant Singh Rajput's death.
The Bombay HC observed in its order that Rhea did not have any criminal antecedents, and it was unlikely that she would tamper with evidence or affect the probe while out on bail.
The court rejected NCB's argument that celebrities deserve specially harsh treatment in such cases so as to `send out a message'.
The NCB had charged Rhea under the stringent Section 27-A of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act that pertains to "financing and harbouring illegal drug trafficking". It entails imprisonment up to 10 years in prison and a bar on the grant of bail.
The HC said simply paying for a particular drug transaction does not qualify as financing drug traffic.
"The allegations against the applicant of spending money in procuring drugs for Sushant Singh Rajput will not, therefore, mean that she had financed illicit traffic," the court said.
It also noted that harbouring an offender as described under the Act would mean providing money for that person's drug consumption while also giving him shelter and food.
Rajput, for whom Rhea allegedly procured drugs, had no apprehension of arrest and therefore, the charge of harbouring too could not be applied, it said.
The court also dismissed the argument that Rhea's bail be rejected to `send out a strong message' to society.
"The learned ASG (additional solicitor general) had argued that celebrities and role models should be treated harshly so that it sets an example for the young generation...I do not agree," Justice Kotwal said.
"Everybody is equal before law. 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," he said.
Justice Kotwal also held that a detailed interpretation of the NDPS Act and previous judgments of the Supreme Court showed that all offences under the Act were non-bailable. Also, section 27-A can be invoked even if quantity of the drug is not "commercial", the judge said.
However, in Rhea's case, since there was no financing or harbouring (of drugs or its consumers), Section 27-A could not be applied, the HC said.
(With inputs from PTI)