‘Rhea Chakraborty’s case has lost total steam’, says her lawyer, reacting to ‘landmark’ Supreme Court judgement
Rhea Chakraborty’s lawyer, Satish Maneshinde has reacted to the Supreme Court’s Thursday ruling that confessional statements made before investigating officers by those accused in drug abuse and trafficking cases under the narcotics law cannot be used to convict them. This would amount to “infringement” of fundamental rights to life, equality and protection against self-incrimination, the court said.
Maneshinde has welcomed the judgement, and said that now, ‘a large number of accused will see the light of the day’. Rhea has been accused of procuring drugs for actor Sushant Singh Rajput, whom she was dating at the time of his death.
He said in a statement, according to The Times of India, “The Judgement rendered by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in respect of Section 67 of the NDPS Act is a Landmark pronouncement. A large number of people have been incarcerated and punished on the basis of statements forcibly extracted by using third degree, coercion and threats to innocent individuals violating their Fundamental Rights in the last 35 years.”
Speaking about the drugs angle in the Sushant Singh Rajput death case, Maneshinde said, “Even in the case of all accused in the SSR Drugs Angle case, there’s hardly any recovery and independent evidence to charge them of serious offences. They are languishing in custody on the basis of inadmissible statements. In view of this Judgement rendered by Justice Rohington Nariman and Navin Sinha a large number of accused will see the light of the day.” Noting that the judgement will work in favour of “downtrodden people languishing in our overcrowded ill-maintained jails,” Maneshinde concluded: “Rhea Chakraborty’s case has lost total steam in the merits of the allegations by virtue of this Judgement.”
Section 25 of the Evidence Act says "no confession made to a police officer, shall be proved as against a person accused of any offence. That a statement recorded under section 67 of the NDPS Act cannot be used as a confessional statement in the trial of an offence under the NDPS Act,” the apex court ruled.
The court said a delicate balancing between the powers of the state and the fundamental rights of citizens was needed and the NDPS Act is to be construed in the backdrop of such rights and hence, “several safeguards are thus contained in the NDPS Act, which is of an extremely drastic and draconian nature”.
Analyzing various similar provisions, the top court said section 67 of the NDPS Act is only a section which enables an officer notified to gather “information in an enquiry in which persons are 'examined'”.
The NCB has arrested over 20 people in connection to the alleged drugs nexus in the film industry. In October, Rhea was released on bail after nearly a month in jail. Actors such as Deepika Padukone, Sara Ali Khan, Shraddha Kapoor and Rakul Preet Singh were called in for questioning.
Sushant died on June 14, in what has been ruled a suicide by the Mumbai Police. His death is being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
(With agency inputs)
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