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Sandalwood drug case: SC grants bail to Ragini Dwivedi

Sandalwood drug case: SC grants bail to Ragini Dwivedi

MUMBAI: The Supreme Court on Thursday granted bail to Kannada film actress Ragini Dwivedi in the Sandalwood drug case, who has been in custody for four-and-half months.

Senior advocate Sidharth Luthra, representing Dwivedi, contended before a bench headed by Justice R.F. Nariman that nothing was recovered from his client from the searches conducted.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Karnataka government, submitted that the substance was not for personal use, instead she arranged it for the rave parties. Mehta insisted that there is a probability of tampering of evidence and the court may consider declining bail at least till the time charge sheet is filed in the case.

The bench also comprising Justices Navin Sinha and K.M. Joseph after a brief hearing in the matter granted bail to Dwivedi, who was in custody since September 4 last year. Granting bail, the court said on a prima facie finding only small quantities of drugs were involved and, hence Section 37 of NDPS Act was not attracted.

Dwivedi’s plea filed through advocate-on-record Sahil Bhalaik said the prosecution has concocted a false case against her to attract public attention. Bhalaik said though the state government claimed she was part of the drug racket, there was no material to show harbouring and finance in the case.

The plea argued that it is remarkable that Ragini has been made an accused and she was arrested on the statement of a co-accused in the case.

Dwivedi contended that the only on the basis of a false statement extracted by the police she has been implicated and became a victim of a media trial.

Dwivedi filed a special leave petition in the top court challenging the November 3 order of the Karnataka High Court, which declined to grant her relief along with another accused Sanjjanaa Galrani in the case. The duo was arrested by the Bengaluru Central Crime Branch Police in September this year.

Ragini was arrested on September 4 and Sanjana on September 8 under various provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985 and the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for allegedly consuming and supplying banned drugs at parties and events organised in the city over the last couple of years. All the accused are lodged in the central jail on the outskirts of the city’s southern suburb.

On September 28, the trial court had dismissed their bail applications on the grounds they could influence the other accused and hamper investigation into the drugs scam.

The special NDPS court had also refused to grant bail to both the actors on the same day (September 28).

The city police began a crackdown on the use of banned drugs in the Sandalwood industry in August last week after noted Kannada film producer Inderjit Lankesh alleged that about a dozen actors were into drugs and there was a nexus between them and drug mafias. Besides Ragini and Sanjana, 20 drug peddlers, party organisers and their associates were arrested and jailed pending the investigation.

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