Drug case: BCN files indictment against 33, including Rhea Chakraborty

The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on Friday filed an indictment against 33 people, including actor Rhea Chakraborty, in a special court in Mumbai in connection with the drug case filed after the death of the actor Sushant Singh Rajput.

The spreadsheet was over 12,000 pages long and the appendices were 50,000 pages long. It included WhatsApp chats between the defendants, their call data records and bank documents, among other evidence. The NCB said more than 200 witness statements were included in the charge sheet, which went to court on Friday in two trunks.

The copies will now be verified by the court before being given to the accused.

The case – 16/20 – was lodged by the NCB following the registration of a previous case – 15/20 – on the basis of chats provided to the agency by the Directorate of Enforcement (DE ). The DE was investigating a money laundering complaint against Rhea and others based on a complaint from Rajput’s father. Rajput died by suicide at his Bandra residence on June 14, 2020. The ED has so far made no arrests or arraignments in his case.

The NCB claimed to have found a link with Chakraborty following the arrest of alleged drug traffickers. The NCB said Chakraborty, Rajput’s cook Dipesh Sawant, and his manager Samuel Miranda, had purchased medicine for the deceased actor on his instructions.

Among the arrested defendants, the BCN claimed to have seized a commercial quantity of contraband Anuj keshwani. The others arrested in the case include two students, at least two foreign nationals, of whom Agisilaos Demetriades, the brother of actor Arjun Rampal’s partner, and Kshitij Prasad, executive producer of Dharmatic Entertainment, the sister company of Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions. While most of the defendants have been released on bail, including Chakraborty and his brother Showik, Prasad and at least three others remain in prison.

The NCB had reserved the accused under Article 8 (c) read with Article 20 (b) (ii), 22, 27A, 28, 29 and 30 of NDPS law. These concern the alleged use and possession of cannabis and psychotropic substances, the financing of illicit trafficking and the harboring of offenders as well as aiding and abetting criminal conspiracy, attempting and preparing to commit an offense.

While the BCN had recorded the statements of more than 20 defendants, which led to more arrests in the case to establish a suspected link between them to prove that they were part of the illicit drug trade, a judgment of the Supreme Court in October 2020 said these cannot be the only basis for convicting an accused. The court ruled that such statements recorded before NCB officials could not be considered confessions and would not be admissible as evidence. The NCB contends, however, that there is other corroborating evidence against the accused.