Terming the media frenzy around actress Rhea Chakraborty as a "witch hunt", Supreme Court advocate Karuna Nundy criticised the NCB handling of the case and subsequent denial of bail to the actress. The advocate was speaking as part of an online discussion panel hosted by journalist Faye D'Souza.
Pointing out that the two-drug peddlers who were also arrested received bail immediately, advocate Nundy pointed out that the liability of the case was entirely driven by Rhea's alleged association with the two.
"Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh have decriminalised marijuana for medical use...it is possible that she (Rhea) procured CBD oil for Sushant Singh Rajput for this reason," the advocate said. She also brought up the recent discovery of 80,000 fake social media accounts being investigated by Mumbai police for maligning their role in the investigation into Sushant Singh Rajput's case.
Panellist B.V Kumar, former DG of the NCB, also note that Rhea was made a "soft target" and cited a recent Supreme Court judgement which dismissed Whatsapp chats as evidence of culpability.
Responding to questions of potential overreach on the NCB's part, Mr.Kumar said that the job of the NCB was not to go after addicts but peddlers as in his own experience, peddlers are a greater danger to society than addicts.
"The law is quite soft on drug addicts," he said. "As far as the affidavit, it is theory. In theory, it is correct. But it is meant to be applied to drug traffickers and not drug addicts." It is this attitude towards drug traffickers that explains the use of "worse than homicide" in the opposition submitted by the NCB during the bail hearing.
Advocate Nundy pointed out that discussions on this case despite the lack of evidence and sheer sensationalism was a ploy by the ruling BJP party to distract the public from larger issues such as economic woes and COVID-19 mismanagement.
"I suspect that after the Bihar elections on November 7th, the witch hunt against this unfortunate sacrificial lamb will at least lighten up," remarked advocate Nundy.
Rhea and her brother Showik were arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau on August fourth as part of the investigations into the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput which turned up alleged drug use. The actress was charged under Section 27A of the NDPS Act and will remain in judicial custody until October 20th. She is the ninth person to be arrested in this case.
Larger conspiracy theories on social media have driven the narrative that the actress was involved in the suicide of her boyfriend actor Sushant Singh Rajput by providing him with drugs which destabilised his mental health. Sushant's family had also accused Rhea and her brother of siphoning off 15 crores from the actor, pushing the motive of financial gain as a reason for abetment of his suicide.
So far the CBI probe has turned up no evidence of financial fraud against the actress or her brother although they are still investigating any possible motive for abetment of suicide. The AIIMS report on the actor's autopsy also dismissed other more strident claims that he had been murdered. The sensational case has dominated headlines for months.