Actor Fardeen Khan got a major relief from the Bombay High Court on Wednesday. The Bombay High Court ruled that he should be charged with attempt to purchase one gram of cocaine, an offence which attracts lesser punishment.
This not only reduces the stipulated prison term to six months, if proven guilty, but also gives Fardeen an opportunity to seek probation in lieu of the prosecution.
He was arrested nine years ago by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) for allegedly possessing cocaine.
The high court on Wednesday dismissed NCB’s appeal against an order of the designated NDPS Court to prosecute the actor for “consumable” quantity instead of “small” quantity as proposed by the central agency.
Under the Narcotic Substances and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, possessing cocaine between 2 and 10 gm is non commercial quantity and the accused will face jail term up to 10 years.
Possessing less than 2 grams of cocaine small or consumable quantity attracts prison term of only six months and it also gives an option to the accused of seeking probation if he is an addict.
NCB had arrested Fardeen outside Juhu ATM of HSBC Bank on May 5, 2001, when he was allegedly trying to purchase cocaine from a peddler, Nasir Shaikh.
Shaikh’s supplier Tony Gomes was arrested later and roped in as accused in the case. Though the NCB seized 9 gm of cocaine from Shaikh and nothing from Fardeen, the central agency sought to prosecute both of them for collectively possession of 9 gm of the contraband material.
But the designated NDPS court in January 2008, decided to charge the actor for possessing only 1 gram of cocaine “small quantity.”
NCB had moved an appeal against the trial court order pressing for Fardeen’s prosecution for possession of 9 gm of cocaine.
A single judge bench of Justice J H Bhatia on Wednesday endorsed the trial court’s decision by dismissing the NCB’s appeal.