Strongly opposing the bail pleas field by actor Rhea Chakraborty, her brother Showik, and other co-accused in a drug case, the NCB told the Bombay High Court Tuesday a strong message needed to be sent out to the society, especially youngsters, to ensure they did not consume drugs.
The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) said the siblings and others arrested were "active members of a drug syndicate" and vowed to go to the roots of the case, an offshoot of probe into filmstar Sushant Singh Rajput's death in June.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Anil Singh, who appeared for the NCB, said a deterrent was required from the court since, considering the current situation of COVID-19, and the country's internal security, we need our youngsters to take care of their health, and not consume drugs.
"If young people go on consuming drugs then who will look after our country. This episode should serve as a lesson to all,” the ASG said.
“And with the present situation of internal and external conflict in the country... There is pandemic. This should be a lesson for others. "I agree there should be sympathy for the youth. But those who are involved in this (drugs consumption, manufacture, procurement etc) must be punished,” Singh said.
The ASG went on to say that the NCB was going to go to the roots of the present case to ensure the chain of drugs was broken.
“Considering the overall case and circumstances, I would submit that this drug abuse has to be controlled in the country, in all sectors whether college, schools, or, Bollywood. Our leaders, say our country is dependent on the young generation,” Singh said.
The ASG was making his submissions before a bench of Justice Sarang Kotwal who was hearing pleas filed by Rhea, Showik, and co-accused Samuel Miranda, Dipesh Sawant, both aides of Rajput, alleged drug dealer Abdul Parihar, and one Zaid Vilatra.
All the accused have challenged the orders of a special NDPS court that had rejected their bail pleas earlier this month.
Earlier, during the day long hearing, the NCB had submitted that there existed ample material to show that Rhea, Showik, and others arrested in the case, represented a "chain, an active syndicate that was involved in procuring, financing, harbouring, and abetting drugs and its consumption".
Singh said Rhea (28) had knowingly paid for her boyfriend Rajputs drugs, and had concealed the information regarding his drug habit.
These qualified as the stringent charges of financing and harbouring drug consumption as define under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS Act, he said.
The ASG was referring to the courts query on application of the stringent section 27A of the NDPS Act in the case.
The section deals with financing illicit traffic and harbouring drug offenders, and entails an imprisonment of up to ten years. It also carries a bar on grant of bail.
All the applicants had opposed the slapping of the Section (27A) in the present case.
Rhea's counsel Satish Maneshinde had argued that she had only occasionally paid for Rajput's drugs and this did not amount to financing.
All the accused had also argued that the drugs seized by the NCB in the case was in small quantity and did not qualify as commercial quantity that could attract stringent sections under the Act.
The ASG, however, argued that the Act did not prescribe a quantity for attracting charges of financing and harbouring.
This is not the case which is filed individually. This is a syndicate, Singh said.
“Rhea did not disclose due to fear of arrest. So it is harbouring. She knew it was illegal but she continued. Giving shelter is not letting Rajput in her house, it is shelter for the purpose of protecting from arrest,” the ASG said.
Earlier, during the day, Singh said a case of drugs was worse than an offence of murder for while the latter involved just one person or one family, the former related to the entire society.
On the applicants argument that the NCB did not have the jurisdiction to probe the case, the ASG said, It is nobody's case that Sushant Rajput died of drugs. This case is not about his death.
"It might have a five or 10 per cent connection to Sushant as he used to consume drugs.
Therefore, while the CBI is probing his death case, we (NCB) are investigating a case involving drugs, he said.
The ASG went on to say while Rajput did not die of drug abuse, the 34-year-old filmstar did consume drugs.
And only because the consumer was dead, those who procured drugs for him could not go scot free", Singh said.
All counsels for the accused persons, however, reiterated that all the arguments and judgements that the NCB had cited to support its case dealt with commercial quantities of drugs.
Advocate Taraq Sayed, the counsel for alleged drug dealer Parihar, said the accused persons should not be used as pawn to send out a strong message to the society.
At this stage we should not be used as pawn for teaching a lesson, Sayed said.
The HC closed all arguments in the case and reserved its verdict on the bail pleas.