Rhea Chakraborty's co-accused Vilatra moves Bombay HC for bail in drug case

Zaid Vilatra, 20, arrested by Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has filed a petition before Bombay high court against the September 9 special court order sending him to judicial custody. He has sought orders for bail from the HC. On September 11, the special NDPS court rejected his bail plea along with those of actor Rhea Chakraborty and her brother, in the case being investigated by the NCB in connection with the June 14 death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput.

Rhea Chakraborty and her brother Showik are co-accused, also in custody, and their lawyer Satish Maneshinde said he will wait for the reasoned bail order before deciding on the next course of legal action before the HC, next week.

Vilatra’s residential premises in Bandra, Mumbai were searched on September 1. In his petition through advocate Taraq Sayed he says, “there is absolutely no recovery of any contraband at his instance and there is absolutely no nexus between him and any contraband of commercial quantity.’’

He said during the search, the prosecution said they found and seized Rs 9.5 lakh, 208USD, 180 UK pounds and 15 UAE Dhiram. The next day his “alleged voluntary statement” was recorded where he allegedly confessed that the money constituted “sale proceeds of drugs.’’ He said he retracted the alleged confession on the first day of remand itself, before a magistrate.

He was then arrested on September 2 and “maliciously” booked under sections 8 c, read along with sections 20(b) (ii) (A) (whoever produces, possesses, sell, transports or uses Cannabis), 23, 27-A (financing illicit traffic and harbouring offenders), 29 and 30 of the Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Act. On September 3, a local court remanded him to seven days custody initially.

Under no circumstance can section 27A which stipulates a strict 10 -20 year sentence and fine of Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2 lakh, be attracted, says his bail plea. Since offences under the Act are prescribed punishment based on the quantum of contraband, “section 27A shall not be applicable to offences involving small quantity or non-commercial quantity,’’ says his bail plea.

Under NDPS Act, seeking bail when section 27A is invoked has stringent limitations. It requires the public prosecutor to be heard and for the court to be satisfied to believe the accused is “not guilty’’ and is unlikely to commit any offence while on bail.

The petition for bail stresses and argued the non-applicability of section 27A which is non-bailable and intended for offences “involving commercial quantity.’’

It even refers to the Merriam webster dictionary which defines financing as an “act of raising or providing funds’’ and he says there is “absolutely no evidence to even remotely suggest that he has financed illicit trafficking of drugs for any person or was involved in harbouring of such person.’’

The cash seized cannot be said to exclusively belong to him as he resides with his family, said the petition which is likely to be hard next week.

On August 28 two persons were first arrested including Abbas Lakhani who was allegedly found in possession of 46 grams of ganja and Karn Arora who was found with 13 grams. Lakhani and Arora have been granted bail by a court. Theirs is a case of ‘small quantity’ of the contraband.