Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has granted bail to Anuj Keshwani, who was arrested in a drugs case related to the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput in 2020. He is the last of the 36 accused, including actor Rhea Chakraborty, to be released on bail.
Keshwani, a resident of Khar, was arrested in September 2020 on charges of drug peddling.
June 14 2020 incident
The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has been probing the case since 2020 after Rajput was found dead in his flat on June 14, 2020, during the nationwide lockdown. It was alleged that the actor was supplied drugs by those close to him, leading to a widespread crackdown by the central agency.
Keswani had approached the High Court seeking bail after his plea was rejected by the special court.
While granting bail, Justice MS Karnik observed: “Prolonged incarceration of the applicant as an undertrial, coupled with the fact that the trial will take a long time to conclude, is a factor enough for me to be satisfied that the rigours of Section 37 can be overcome.”
According to Section 37 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance (NDPS) Act, bail can only be granted to an accused if the court is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing the accused is not guilty of such an offence and is unlikely to commit any offence while on bail.
A total of 36 accused were arrested, including Rhea Chakraborty and her brother Showik. While Rhea, Showik, and 33 other accused were granted bail by various courts earlier, Keshwani remained in custody due to the discovery of commercial quantities of drugs in his residence during the NCB raid.
Keshwani’s advocate contended that the prosecution proposes to examine 160 witnesses, and hence it will take a long time for the trial to conclude. The advocate also pointed out procedural lapses during the raids and seizures conducted without a search warrant, although the court did not delve into this issue.
Justice Karnik noted that another accused, Jitendra Jain, had been granted bail on similar grounds by the Supreme Court in December 2022. Based on Jain's judgment, another accused, Mohammad Azam Jumman Shaikh, had also been granted bail.