Australian architect Paul Bartels was granted bail by a holiday court on Thursday in the drugs case related to late Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput with the court saying that there was absence of substantial material to treat him as a peddler or supplier of drugs.
Special Judge under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act HS Satbhai said in his order, “In absence of any substantial material, taking into account the fact that no contraband material was found/recovered from the accused and except the statements of accused and Whatsapp messages there is no substantial material to treat the accused as a peddler/supplier of drugs, it may not be justified to refuse to extend the concession of bail.”
The court said that if material is collected in future by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) demonstrating his role, then the scenario would be different.
Judge Satbhai said that Bartels’ role is the same as that of co-accused Agisilaos Demetriades who is a foreign national and was granted bail on November 6 and therefore, on grounds of parity Bartels is also required to be released on bail.
The court also noted that co-accused Nikhil Saldhanha on whose instance Bartels’ role was revealed in the case, has also been released on bail on November 2.
The special court observed that the agency did not ask for his custody after his arrest when he was produced before a magistrate. This goes to show, it said, that no material is available with the NCB to interrogate Bartels and make further investigation explaining that he is not a consumer but a peddler of drugs.
Appearing for the 38-year-old, his advocates Abad Ponda and Subhash Jadhav had told the court that the charges against Bartels are for small quantities of drugs and he need not be detained in custody as that would amount to pre-trial punishment. His bail plea cited the names of 10 co-accused who have been granted bail. It stated that the NCB is only trying to create a link between Demetriades and Bartels. It also said that besides having no criminal record, Bartels has been residing in India from the past six years and has based his roots at his residence and place of work.
His plea for bail before the magistrate court was not heard due to paucity of time and the court had given him the liberty to approach the sessions court.