30 Sep 2020 3:45 AM GMT
If a person does not disclose the fact of drug consumption by another person, that will amount to 'harbouring' of an offender, said the Narcotics Control Bureau in the Bombay High Court on Tuesday.The submission was made by the central agency to justify the invocation of Section 27A of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act against film actor Rhea Chakrabory and four others...
If a person does not disclose the fact of drug consumption by another person, that will amount to 'harbouring' of an offender, said the Narcotics Control Bureau in the Bombay High Court on Tuesday.
The submission was made by the central agency to justify the invocation of Section 27A of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act against film actor Rhea Chakrabory and four others in relation to alleged drug procurement for the late actor Sushant Singh Rajput.
Section 27A deals with 'financing illict traffic and harbouring offenders', and attracts a punishment in the range of ten to twenty years of rigorous imprisonment.
The lawyers for Rhea and other co-accused, Advocates Taraq Sayed and Satish Manshinde, submitted that the accused cannot be said to have 'harboured' Sushant as he was living in his own apartment. Also, Sushant was not under the apprehension of arrest at any point of time.
Responding to this, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh submitted on behalf of the NCB :
"If somebody known to me is consuming drugs...consumption is illegal..and I am not telling this to anyone...not disclosing it to police...then it can be brought under the definition of 'harbouring'(under Sec 27A)".
He made this submission when Justice S V Kotwal, the single judge who is hearing the matter, expressed doubt as to whether allegation of procurement of drugs can qualify as 'harbouring offender' under Section 27A.
ASG Anil Singh asserted that concealment of drug consumption amounts to harbouring.
"Such an act is giving protection or shelter to the drug consumer from arrest", he said.
Justice Kotwal asked "You are saying non-disclosure is giving shelter?"
In reply, ASG said "The definition says 'assistance by any means'", referring to the definition of harbouring given under Section 52A of the Indian Penal Code.
ASG (for NCB) : Such an act is giving protection or shelter to the drug consumer from arrest.Justice Kotwal : You are saying non-disclosure is giving shelter?ASG : The definition says 'assistance by any means'.#SushantSinghRajputCase— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) September 29, 2020
ASG (for NCB) : Such an act is giving protection or shelter to the drug consumer from arrest.Justice Kotwal : You are saying non-disclosure is giving shelter?ASG : The definition says 'assistance by any means'.#SushantSinghRajputCase
Justice Kotwal also asked if it was necessary to make arrest always under NDPS cases if the intention is to reform drug addicts.
"Is it necessary to arrest persons if the intention is to reform? Will not arrest cause irreparable harm? When you arrest, you have to be very careful so as not to leave a mark on a person who is not a nuisance to society. Suppose, a son is a drug addict and a father procures drugs for his son out of his desperation, will you punish the father for 10 years?" Justice Kotwal enquired.
ASG Singh replied : Any person who procures drugs needs to be dealt with in accordance with the provisions of the Act for deterrent effect!
Kotwal J: Will you punish a person who procured 5 grams of ganja for a family member for 10 years?
ASG Singh: Anyone who spoils the life of another person, a young person, needs to be punished. There need not be any intention for profit-making. Someone, out of enmity, could spoil someone with drugs.
Justice Kotwal then drew the ASG's attention to Section 27A and said it does not use words "encouraging drugs" or "helping". "Financing" and "harbouring" are the words used. We have to focus on those, Kotwal said.
After referring to the Statement of objects and reasons of the said act, ASG Singh argued that all accused are connected and interlinked and are a part of a syndicate.
Justice Kotwal: Saeed had argued that the man (Sushant) is no more and there is no recovery and therefore the Section 67 statements cannot be recovered.
ASG Singh : In drug cases, recovery is not necessary. There are precedents. If the Court sees the entire syndicate, drugs were not delivered only to Sushant. Brother of Rhea was in contact with every drug dealer. The person (Sushant) may not be alive. But that does not mean that the offence goes.
"Just because the consumer of the drugs has died, it does not mean that the others cannot be punished. This is not a case related only to Sushant Singh Rajput. There is no case that Sushant Singh died due to drug consumption. The transactions are not restricted to Sushant Singh. So his death will not affect the investigation", ASG Singh clarified.
Justice Kotwal said that the word "engaging" in the definition of "illicit drug trade" is important as it denotes a continuous activity. Section 8(c) does not cover this, he added.
In response, ASG Singh argued that quantity is irrelevant for Section 27A. The test for Section 27A is that person is involved directly or indirectly in financing of "illicit traffic", he said.
Moreover, he argued that there are voluntary statements of Rhea & Showik that they have been making payments for purchase of prohibited drugs for Sushant. Therefore, they directly fall within the scope of sale, purchase, shipment of drugs.
"Sale and purchase are covered under Section 8(c) also. What is the difference then(between Sec 8(c) and 27A)?", Kotwal J asked.
Financing is not covered under Section 8(c), ASG replied.
"We have to go by the simple provisions of the Act. If financing is included in Section 27A, it applies. Nobody has challenged the provision. We cannot go behind the reason why financing is included in the provision. Financing has been made more stringent. It is not mentioned in Section 8(c). Even indirect financing is covered under Section 27A", he added.
In conclusion of his submissions, ASG Singh said-
"Considering the brutality of the case & overall circumstances of cases, drug abuse has to be controlled in the country, in all sectors- college, school, Bollywood, wherever it is. Our leaders always say the country is dependent on youngsters. Some people, who are supposed to be role models, feel that there is nothing wrong in drug use."
In the end, Justice Kotwal said he is reserving the order and complimented all parties for arguing well in the case.
ASG (for NCB) : If I as a celebrity, who is a role model for college students, consume drugs, what will be the future of the country?#SushantSinghRajputCase#RheaChakraborty— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) September 29, 2020
ASG (for NCB) : If I as a celebrity, who is a role model for college students, consume drugs, what will be the future of the country?#SushantSinghRajputCase#RheaChakraborty
Also read other reports about the hearing :
'How Can Supply Of Drugs To Sushant Be Proved When He Is No More?' Lawyer Submits In Rhea Bail Hearing
If Sushant Gets Only Smaller Punishment Under NDPS Act, How Can Rhea Be Booked Under Section 27A? Lawyer Asks In Bail Hearing