- Rhea Chakraborty "is not part of chain of drug dealers", high court said
- She has been asked to submit Rs. 1 lakh as bond
- The 28-year-old actor was arrested on September 8 by the NCB
Actor Rhea Chakraborty has been granted bail with conditions nearly a month after her arrest over drugs-related charges in the Sushant Singh Rajput case. Her brother Showik, however, has been denied any reprieve by the Bombay High Court.
"She will be released today and spend her night after a month in her own bed," Rhea Chakraborty's lawyer Satish Maneshinde said.
Another court had yesterday extended their judicial custody till October 20.
Rhea Chakraborty "is not part of a chain of drug dealers" and "has not forwarded the drugs allegedly procured by her to somebody else to earn monetary other benefits," the High Court said. "Since she has no criminal antecedents, there are reasonable grounds for believing that she is not likely to commit any offence while on bail," the order said.
"We are delighted by the order. Truth and Justice have prevailed and ultimately the submissions on facts and law have been accepted by Justice Sarang V Kotwal," Satish Maneshinde said.
Rhea Chakraborty has been asked to submit Rs 1 lakh as bond and mark her presence daily at the nearest police station for 10 days after her release. She also has to hand over her passport and cannot travel abroad without the court's permission.
"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, Enforcement Directorate and the Narcotics Control Bureau should come to an end. We remain committed to truth. Satyameva Jayate," Mr Maneshinde said.
Rhea Chakraborty was arrested on September 8 by the Narcotics Control Bureau on charges of organizing drugs for Sushant Singh Rajput, a popular movie star who was found dead in his Mumbai apartment on June 14.
She was accused of being "an active member of a drugs syndicate" and financing drugs used by Sushant Singh Rajput, her boyfriend.
The High Court, while granting bail, said "simply providing money for a particular transaction or other transactions will not be financing of that activity" and allegations of spending money in procuring drugs for Sushant Singh Rajput "do not mean that she had financed illicit traffic." The court noted that the actor's charges did not involve commercial quantity of drugs.
The court also disagreed with the drugs agency's argument that celebrities and role models should be treated harshly to set an example. "I do not agree. 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. Each case will have to be decided on its own merits irrespective of the status of the accused," the judge said.
In her bail petition, Rhea Chakraborty had said that she and her brother were sole targets of a witch-hunt by multiple agencies who had found no evidence incriminating her.
She had alleged that Sushant Singh Rajput "took advantage of those closest to him to sustain his drug habit" and that she had tried to rid him of it. She also said he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and his family abandoned him at the peak of his depression. His mental health "deteriorated during the lockdown", she claimed, adding that the deaths of actors Irrfan Khan and Rishi Kapoor also had a tremendous impact on him.
Sushant Singh was "extremely happy after being offered Rs 14 crore for a movie", Rhea Chakraborty's bail plea said, alleging that the actor was disturbed over a rift with his family, especially his father.
Rhea Chakraborty also argued that the charges against her were too severe compared to the quantity of the drugs involved. She accused the drugs probe agency of spinning a false narrative that she was involved in illegal drugs trafficking and "harboured offenders".
The CBI is investigating the circumstances of Sushant Singh Rajput's death and the Enforcement Directorate is looking into financial allegations raised by the actor's father.
The Narcotics Control Bureau stepped into the Sushant Singh Rajput investigations when WhatsApp chats retrieved from Rhea Chakraborty's phone revealed alleged conversations involving the procuring of drugs.
Several top actors have been questioned by the anti-drugs bureau in a widening probe into drugs and the film industry.