The Supreme Court made an observation on Tuesday regarding the Bombay High Court's judgment on the interpretation of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. The High Court had granted bail to Rhea Chakraborty, the girlfriend of the late actor Sushant Singh Rajput. However, the Supreme Court clarified that this judgment would not be considered as a precedent in other cases.
In October 2021, the Bombay High Court interpreted Section 27A of the NDPS Act while granting bail to Chakraborty. The High Court ruled that merely providing money to purchase drugs or concealing drug use does not constitute "financing illicit trade" or "harbouring of offender" under the said section.
Section 27A of the NDPS Act deals with the offense of "financing illicit trade" and "harbouring" of individuals involved in such trade, which carries a minimum sentence of ten years imprisonment.
The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) had challenged this order before the Supreme Court. During the hearing on Tuesday, the NCB clarified that they were not challenging Chakraborty's bail but wished to keep the question of law open.
A division bench of Justices AS Bopanna and MM Sundresh disposed of the NCB's petition and clarified that the High Court's order should not be considered a precedent. The bench stated in its order that while the challenge to the impugned order might not be necessary at this stage, the question of law would be kept open. The judgment of the High Court would not serve as a precedent for any other case.
Chakraborty was implicated in an alleged drugs case registered after Rajput's death in 2021, with accusations that she was involved with "drug dealers" who facilitated the purchase of drugs for the late actor. She was arrested under the NDPS Act on September 8, 2021, and granted bail a month later on October 4, 2021.
Justice Sarang Kotwal of the High Court had dismissed the NCB's claim that Chakraborty was an active member of a drug syndicate. The High Court stated that she was not involved in drug dealing or forwarding drugs to others for personal gain. The court observed that there were reasonable grounds to believe that Chakraborty was not guilty of any offense punishable under Section 27A of the NDPS Act or any offense involving a commercial quantity of drugs.
The High Court also rejected the allegation that Chakraborty had "harbored" Sushant Singh Rajput. Justice Kotwal stated that no criminal case or FIR was pending against Rajput at the time, as he was living in his own house and providing for his own needs. Therefore, Chakraborty's actions could not be stretched to qualify as harboring Rajput, according to Justice Kotwal.