2 men who implicated Rhea Chakraborty’s brother in drugs case retract statements
Sushant Singh Rajput death: Two men arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau have told a Mumbai court that they were pressured by officials to make statements.Updated: Sep 07, 2020, 20:46 IST
Zaid Vilatra and Abdel Basit Parihar, the two accused who had implicated Rhea Chakraborty’s brother and Sushant Singh Rajput’s house manager Samuel Miranda and domestic help Dipesh Swant, have retracted their statements given to the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).
The NCB had arrested Zaid Vilatra and Abdel Basit Parihar on August 3. They were remanded in NCB custody. On Saturday, their lawyer Taraq Sayyed requested a Mumbai magistrate to release them on bail, insisting that the statements made by them while in NCB custody should be disregarded as the two had been arm-twisted by the probe agency.
“We filed applications when they were produced before the court where they retracted the statements given before NCB officers, and we sought bail for them. This is a bailable offence. Also, the amount of narcotic substance involved is in small quantity which entitles the accused to bail,” said Taraq Sayyed.
The magistrate, however, had rejected their bail request. Vilatra and Parihar on Saturday filed a fresh bail request before a special court constituted to try cases under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act. The two accused also told the NDPS judge that they had made their statements to the NCB under duress.
The NDPS special court hasn’t ruled on their bail request yet. After the NCB insisted that it needed to interrogate the two to build their case, the judge put off the hearing and decided to take up the bail request hearing on Thursday.
Vilatra and Parihar were arrested by the NCB in the ongoing probe into the allegations of drug use by the late actor Sushant Singh Rajput.
The agency had first arrested Abbas Ali Lakhani (21) with 46 grams of ganja on August 28. On the basis of information given by Lakhani, his supplier Karn Arora was arrested with 13 grams of ganja. Later on the information provided by the two, NCB had arrested Vilatra and Parihar on August 3. NCB had claimed that Parihar had admitted to having purchased marijuana on the instruction of Rhea Chhakraborty’s brother Showik and supplied it to Samuel Miranda.
Lawyers say that once an accused retracts his statement, its evidentiary value becomes questionable, and that the courts will have to look into various aspects. But this may not always be an automatic process and would depend on the peculiar circumstances of the case.
Rizwan Merchant, a noted lawyer practising criminal law, said, “Once the statement given by the accused is retracted, the evidential value of what is stated becomes questionable. The court will have to see independent evidence other than the statement which can support the prosecution’s case. In Rajput’s case, the conversation on an App can be looked into if it has independent corroboration.”
Avdhut Chimalkar, noted lawyer who appeared as special public prosecutor in the case registered against former Narcotics Control Bureau zonal director and senior IPS officer Saji Mohan, explained: “When the accused retracts the statement, the court has to look into various aspects which include the contents. There are contents which are in the exclusive knowledge of the accused, which could not have been even imagined by the investigating officer – in such circumstances the retraction may not be accepted. Further, the accused gives a statement after their arrest and later they retract their statement after the consultation of their lawyer, such retraction may also not be accepted by the court. Of course this has to be proved by leading evidence.” Saji Mohan, who was found in possession of 12 kilograms of heroin, was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.