Ragini Dwivedi, the Kannada actor who had been in custody for over 140 days after being arrested for allegedly consuming and supplying drugs at parties, was granted bail by the Supreme Court on Thursday, the Live Law reported.
Dwivedi was arrested on September 4, 2020 after the Central Crime Branch of the Bengaluru Police raided her house in connection with a drug racket case. The actor had been booked under several provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act and the Indian Penal Code.
The case is part of an ongoing investigation that started on August 21, 2020 when the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) raided an upscale gated community, Nikoo Homes, in Bengaluru. Along with a number of drugs, a diary containing names of 15 celebrities including actors, musicians, models and reality show personalities from the Kannada entertainment industry, was also seized. Those named were then accused of procuring drugs (including marijuana), arranging high-end rave parties, and supplying them at such events.
Following her arrest, a special NDPS court on October 9, 2020 in Karnataka extended judicial custody of Dwivedi and other co-accused persons after rejecting their bail plea multiple times. On November 3, 2020, she was denied bail by the Karnataka High Court, after which she filed a special leave plea.
In the special plea, Dwivedi stated that she had been denied bail multiple times and had been kept in custody merely on the basis of a statement extracted by the police from a co-accused in the case. The plea also stated that she had become a victim of a trial by media.
During the latest hearing, a bench headed by Justice Rohinton Nariman released the actor based on the finding that Section 37 of the NDPS Act was incorrectly invoked against her while mentioning that a case under Section 27 (b) for the consumption of drugs should be made. The court observed that there were no drugs found at her residence, so it could be said that “she consumed drugs at parties” and that the entire case was based on a statement given by another co-accused Ravi Shankar. The court observed that a charge sheet hadn’t been filed till date.
“It can be said that Section 37 was wrongly invoked by the Sessions Court and High Court. With this out of the way, this is case in which bail must follow. As a result of which, we set aside the judgement of the High Court and enlarge the Petitioner on bail,” the court added.
Actor Rhea Chakraborty, who was recently released on bail in the drugs procurement case linked to investigations involving actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death, was cited during the hearing when senior advocate Sidharth Luthra, Dwivedi’s lawyer, said that though the cases were similar, Dwivedi’s case was limited to just consumption.
Dwivedi’s bail comes after more than a month since actor Sanjjanaa Galrani, another co-accused in the case, was released on bail on December 11, 2020.