Deepika Padukone has been summoned by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in the drugs use case arising from Sushant Singh Rajput’s death, which now seems to have the entire Bollywood in its grip. The actress will be interrogated on Saturday by the NCB officials. Deepika and Ranveer were spotted returning from Goa on Thursday late evening. Sources reveal that Ranveer has asked NCB for special permission to be able to sit through the interrogation with Deepika. What will happen to the ‘Padmaavat’ actress on Saturday ? Will she follow the same route as Rhea Chakraborty and be arrested ? Or will she be able to dodge the bullet and walk free ? ETimes spoke to some of the biggest legal experts in the country to get an opinion.
‘The WhatsApp chat has very little value’: Majeed Memon
Senior legal expert Majeed Memon says, “Narcotics and Psychotropic act (NDPS) is a stringent piece of law and NCB has wide powers to investigate and unearth any activity that is related with prohibited material such as drugs and narcotics substances. In this case the NCB is investigating as to whether the offences are committed by breaching provision of this act. As for Deepika she may be interrogated as a witness or she could be questioned as a suspect. We will have to wait and see what transpires during her interrogation. But what is expected is the NCB officials must not appear to be vindictive, they must not appear to be biased, must not appear to be acting on extraneous consideration, save and except in the interest of justice. The Whatsapp chat has very limited value at this juncture. Unless it is having some kind of corroboration from some independent source it will not be sustained in the court of law at the trial stage. Also it needs to be known whether she has played a dominant role in others’ consumption also or it was a mere case of consumption. There were several people who consumed the drugs, the offence may be very light therefore she will have no reason to worry.
‘Too premature to think Deepika will be arrested’ : Hitesh Jain
Another legal expert Hitesh Jain revealed, “Prima Facie there is only evidence of wrongdoing and such wrong doing requires investigation therefore she has been summoned. Right now all I can say is that she will be confronted with statements given by others and the material available with NCB apart from her whatsapp conversations that are in public domain now. Based on Deepika’s statement about her role and if the drug was for consumption she will be charged accordingly; but we cannot make conjectures at this point of time. As for the Whatsapp chat it has evidentiary value provided it is legally proved and electronic evidence has to be provided in the case. It is too premature to even think that Deepika will be arrested in this case . If at all, it will be under section 20 of the NDPS act and at present we don’t know what material is there exactly against her.”
‘Deepika can’t be charged under NDPS Act’: Rizwan Merchant
Law expert Rizwan Merchant who has worked on several Bollywood cases reveals ,“The cases against Rhea and Deepika are very different. While Rhea is being charged for acquisition and payment for the narco substance, Deepika isn’t charged for that. The Whatsapp chat between Karishma and Deepika, though admissible in evidence, does not prove anything beyond the fact that one person sent the sms and the other received it. The chat being from 2017 it is impossible for NCB to claim or succeed in recovery or seizure of any narcotic substance. Even if Deepika admits the receipt and/ or sending of sms from, or to Karishma, if she denies having received any substance from Karishma, Deepika can’t be charged under the NDPS Act. Assuming Deepika admits having received it, of which I’m doubtful, she can’t be charged for anything other than consumption under sec. 27 of the NDPS Act, for which there is immunity provided from prosecution under 64A of the NDPS Act, by undergoing rehab or detox at a Govt recognised rehab center.”