Actor Deepika Padukone’s manager Karishma Prakash told a special court on Wednesday, through an application, that a stringent provision of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) was invoked against her by the agency as she did not agree to a Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) officer’s proposal to change her lawyer and hire someone of his choice. She said she has recorded conversations which she sought that the court hear before deciding on her pre-arrest bail plea.
In her application, filed through advocate Ayaz Khan, she said that on November 25 last year, NCB had indicated in writing to the court that it had invoked the provision against her. Prior to the date, she said, she was being forced to change her lawyers and appoint a lawyer of their choice. “In the above context, the applicant has been spoken to on mobile calls (WhatsApp calls) by an NCB officer and an advocate whose name is being presently withheld,” her application read.
It further said that officer Balwant Rai claimed that the agency’s prosecutor and her advocate were not on good terms. Therefore, she must change her lawyer or Section 27A (financing illicit trafficking and harbouring offenders) would be invoked against her. The offence attracts a punishment of a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of 20 years in prison.
The plea said there was a conference call between the officer, the advocate and herself in which the officer said that if the advocate of their choice is engaged, then the whole complexion of the case will change and that he will help from inside the NCB.
She further said that the recorded conversations were submitted to the NCB and Rai was suspended.
Special Public Prosecutor Atul Sarpande called the plea ‘preplanned’ and ‘calculated’. Rai is still under suspension, he confirmed, and said that the court was informed on November 11 itself by NCB that the provision will be applied against her and denied the allegations in the application.