Supreme Court granted bail in Sandalwood drug case to Kannada actress Ragini Dwivedi

Law Insider In

Sreya Kanugula

On January 21, 2021, the SC granted bail to Ragini Dwivedi, the Kannada actress who was arrested on the allegation of consumption and supply of drugs during several events and parties she had organized and at other locations as well.

Relief came in the form of an order given by a single-headed bench of Justice Rohinton Nariman after hearing the arguments made by Ms. Dwivedi’s legal counsel, Senior Advocate Sidharth Luthra, and Mr. Tushar Mehta, the Solicitor-General.

Justice Nariman noted that the NDPS Act’s Section 37 had been invoked wrongfully by both the Sessions Court as well as the High Court.

The bench stated that although the petitioner had been found in violation of some sections of the NDPS Act, prima facie, these offences would have had to be made out as they can under Section 27(b) of the Act for certain drugs consumption.

The given order dictated that after being taken through all of the proceedings concerning this case by Mr. Luthra, some things had grown apparent to the view of the Court.

First, no drugs were found in the hands of the petitioner and the entire case made against her was upon the basis of a statement. Second, the petitioner’s consumption of drugs at parties and other events could only be proven on an assumption.

Third, the court noted more importantly that the arrest of the petitioner had also been committed on a charge of conspiracy, which had been found by the High Court to be of tenuous nature and the aforementioned court mentioned nothing on it.

Further, it stated that to date there wasn’t an application of a charge sheet filed against the petitioner. Therefore, the single offence of the petitioner that could be made against her for consuming drugs under Section 27(b) along with that of Section 37, were both wrongfully invoked.

The SC stated in their conclusion that“Section 37 was wrongly invoked by High Court and Sessions Judge. With Section 37 out of the way, this is a case bail must follow. High Court judgment set aside, and Ragini Dwivedi enlarged on bail,”.

In November of 2020, the High Court of Karnataka had rejected Ms. Dwivedi’s application for bail upholding that there was a requirement for custodial interrogation to be conducted upon the accused persons for the discovery of evidence with regards to the drug case’s investigation.

On an interesting note, when the argument point of the amount of the substance of contraband was brought up, the Court had made the clarification that the High of Bombay’s decision to grant bail to Ms. Rhea Chakraborty didn’t apply to this case.

Making an inference from the prior judgment, the Court had upheld that offences that were punishable as per the NDPS Act’s Section 27(a) were not specific to the quantity found.

“Following the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of State of Punjab Vs. Baldev Singh, it has been held by the Bombay High Court that irrespective of quantity of the contraband substance and the length of the period of imprisonment, all the offences enumerated in NDPS Act are non-bailable. The offence punishable under Section 27(A) of NDPS Act is not quantity specific, the High Court had stated in their ruling.

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