MUMBAI: Actor Rhea Chakraborty was released from Byculla prison in Mumbai Today on Wednesday after her bail was granted by the Bombay high court in a drugs case linked to the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput. The court rejected the claim that in such situations, celebrities deserved particularly harsh punishment for "sending out a message." Rhea stepped out of the Byculla women's prison here at about 5.30 pm in the midst of a scrum of mediapersons after spending 28 days in prison. The court ordered the actress to appear before the Mumbai police for 10 days and before the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB, which had arrested her) once a month for the next six months, thus granting her bail on a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh.
Meanwhile, Vikas Singh, Rajput's family lawyer, hit out today at the AIIMS forensic team that had submitted a report alleging that the actor died from suicide and not murder. The lawyer argued that the "lack of credibility" report from the AIIMS and his team wrote to the CBI to form a new medical team to investigate the case. Earlier today, HC Justice Sarang Kotwal also granted bail to Dipesh Sawant and Samuel Miranda, Rajput 's domestic aides, but rejected the bail plea of Showik Chakraborty, Rhea 's brother. The court also dismissed the suspected drug peddler Abdel Basit Parihar 's bail request. In its order, the HC acknowledged that Rhea had no criminal record, and it was doubtful that, once on bail, she would tamper with evidence or impact the investigation. Rhea, however, cannot leave Mumbai without permission from the NCB and she will need permission from the special NDPS court here to travel outside the country, the HC said.
Under the strict Section 27-A of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act relating to "financing and harbouring illicit drug trafficking," the NCB has charged Rhea. This includes incarceration of up to 10 years in jail and a bail award bar. The HC said that merely paying for a single drug transaction does not count as drug trafficking financing. "Therefore, the allegations against the claimant of spending money on drug procurement for Sushant Singh Rajput do not suggest that she funded illegal trafficking," the court said. It also noted that harbouring an offender as defined under the Act would mean providing money for the drug use of that person while providing him with shelter and food as well. There was no apprehension of arrest for Rajput, for whom Rhea allegedly procured drugs, and therefore the charge of harbouring could not be applied, it said.
The court also dismissed the contention that Rhea's bail was dismissed in order to "give a clear message to society." "The learned ASG (additional solicitor general) argued that celebrities and role models should be unfairly handled so that the young generation can set an example … I don't agree," Justice Kotwal said. "Everyone is equal before the law. No celebrity or role model in the court of law enjoys any special privilege. Similarly, when he faces law in the courts, such an individual also does not incur any special responsibility, "he said. The HC, however, dismissed Rhea's brother Showik 's bail appeal. "In order to supply them to Sushant Singh Rajput, the applicant (Showik) facilitated the procurement of drugs from one group. He was obviously involved in the illicit trafficking or illegal drug trade," the court said. "In the chain of drug dealers, the applicant appears to be an significant link. He was in contact with numerous dealers," the court said.
On Wednesday, Rajput's family lawyer Vikas Singh alleged that the report submitted by the AIIMS forensic team "lacks credibility" and asked the CBI to conduct a probe into the AIIMS team and find out "who recently met all of them." If a new forensic panel is not established, the senior advocate said Rajput’s family will approach the court. Only the CBI will decide if Rajput’s death is a suicide case and that AIIMS has "no right" to say whether it was suicide or hanging, the lawyer said. to take all measures to ensure that a fair investigation is carried out and we will also go to the court to create a new panel and get justice, "he said. On Wednesday, Rajput's family wrote to the CBI alleging "unprofessional conduct" by AIIMS director Sudhir Gupta in leaking the late actor's forensic report and seeking a new panel to fairly and properly evaluate his death. On Saturday, the AIIMS Medical Board ruled out murder in the case and called it "a case of hanging and suicide death," the forensic chief of the premier institute, Gupta, said.
At the press conference, Singh reported that after seeing the photos of his body that his sister had clicked, Gupta had previously told him that Rajput 's death was "200 percent a case of strangulation." Commenting on the bail granted to actress Rhea Chakraborty, he told the media that she was given bail on the basis of a "very poor" drug case against her. "The real question is whether or not she gave Sushant the drugs without his knowledge. Did she tell doctors about his use, to whom she took him for treatment," he said.