Drug case: NCB suspends 2 officers, gives clean chit to public prosecutor

The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on Thursday rejected reports about public prosecutor Atul Sarpande “under scanner” of the agency over alleged lapses in recent probes in cases such as arrest of actor Bharti Singh and her husband in a drug case and the questioning of Karishma Prakash, former manager of actress Deepika Padukone.

Sarpande has been representing the agency in case number 16 which is linked to the death of the Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput. The case hogged the media limelight as the agency cracked down on drug peddlers and questioned several Bollywood actors. The recent bail granted to comedian Bharti Singh and her husband and screenwriter Haarsh Limbachiyaa for possessing drugs by a magistrate court has been embroiled in controversy.

An officer did not appear for their bail application at the Killa court on November 23. Sarpande was in Thane for appearing for another case and was not able to attend as well. Another officer has been suspended over his alleged interaction. Subsequently, the agency has suspended two of its officers in connection with investigation of the cases.

“There have been a few lapses for which two officers have been suspended. They are, however, not investigating officers. The probe over the suspension is at preliminary stage and we are probing the circumstances,” said a high-ranking NCB officer.

Reacting on reports about Sarpande being probed for lacunae, the officer said, “Sarpande has been appearing for the NCB in case number 16 and has been arguing efficiently against the accused trying to secure bail.”

The person earlier quoted stated that misleading reports have been deliberately spread. “There is a ploy to derail the investigation and a deliberate mischief has been played,” the officer, who is part of the probe, said.

When contacted, Sarpande said that his absence for a day for Bharti’s bail reply was communicated by his junior to the court in the morning. “The linking of suspension of two officers with me is done deliberately as I have been fighting hard against the accused arrested in the case. I have a practice of 31 years in drug-related cases,” said Sarpande adding that he will continue to represent the NCB.

“Some accused arrested in the case are still in jail,” he said. The film stars and drug peddlers are under investigation over two FIRs filed by the NCB which are related to investigate allegations pertaining to drug procurement, conspiracy, consumption among other charges.

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