On Tuesday, 29 September, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) submitted their arguments in the Bombay High Court against actor Rhea Chakraborty and four others in the case relating to alleged drug procurement for the late Sushant Singh Rajput. The matter was heard by Justice S V Kotwal.
NCB’s Submission to Invoke Section 27A of the NDPS Act Against Rhea:
Amongst the points raised by Additional Solicitor General, Anil Singh, in his submissions on behalf of the NCB was that - if a person does not disclose the fact of drug consumption by another person, it will amount to 'harbouring' of an offender. This point was made to justify the invocation of Section 27A of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.
What is Section 27A of the NDPS Act:
Section 27A of the NDPS Act deals with ‘financing illicit traffic and harbouring offenders', and attracts a punishment in the range of 10 to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment.
Rhea’s Lawyer’s Argument against Section 27A:
Advocates Satish Maneshinde and Taraq Sayed, who are defending Rhea and the other accused submitted that they cannot be said to have ‘harboured’ Sushant since he was living in his own apartment.
They also said that Sushant was not under the apprehension of being arrested at any point of time.
Can Non-Disclosure be Equated to Giving Shelter?
Submission by ASG Anil Singh of NCB was, "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'".
When Justice Kotwal asked if the alleged procurement of drugs can qualify as harbouring under Section 27A, Singh responded by saying that, "Such an act is giving protection or shelter to the drug consumer from arrest". To this Justice Kotwal asked if non-disclosure can be equated to giving shelter.
How Can Rhea be Punished Under Section 27A: Advocate Satish Maneshinde
Making his case, Rhea’s lawyer Maneshinde said, “Had Sushant Singh Rajput been alive today, he would have been punished under Section 20. Sushant would have then claimed the immunity of rehabilitation and got away with punishment for small quantities. If the beneficiary can only get smaller punishment, how can Rhea and Showik be punished under Section 27A?”
Maneshinde’s contention was,“If Sushant is alive today, he will be punished under Section 27 for consumption, which attracts punishment of 6 months to 1 year. If the main beneficiary gets only that punishment, how can Rhea and Showik be charged with Section 27A which attracts 10 to 20 yrs punishment?”
NCB Says Rhea Financed Illicit Drugs for Sushant’s Consumption:
ASG Anil Singh on behalf of the NCB also submitted that Rhea and Showik have given statements admitting to making payments for the purchase of prohibited drugs for Sushant Singh Rajput, which is an activity that falls within the scope of sale, purchase, shipment of drugs. Singh argued that direct and indirect financing illicit traffic is included under Section 27A, so the section applies.
The Bombay High Court has reserved order on the bail pleas of Rhea Chakraborty, Showik Chakraborty and others. Justice Kotwal also complimented all parties for arguing well in the case.
(With inputs from Live Law and Bar and Bench)
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