Everybody is equal before the law, the court said. "She is not part of drug dealers. She has not forwarded the drugs allegedly procured by her to somebody else to earn monetary or other benefits," the court said.
The NCB had alleged that Rhea used to procure drugs for actor Sushant Singh Rajput, her boyfriend, who committed suicide at his Mumbai house on June 14. But its probe so far had not revealed any recovery of drugs either from Rhea or from Rajput's house, the court pointed out.
"It is their (NCB's) own case that the drugs were already consumed and hence there was no recovery. In that case, there is nothing at this stage to show that the applicant (Rhea) had committed any offence involving commercial quantity of contraband," HC said. If an offence under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act involves a "commercial quantity" of drug, it entails higer punishment.
The court also rejected argument by the additional solicitor general who appeared for the NCB that Rhea should be denied bail to send out a strong message to society. "The learned ASG had argued that the celebrities and role models should be treated harshly so that it sets an example for the young generation and they do not get encouraged to commit such offences.
"I do not agree," Justice Kotwal said. "Everybody is equal before law. No celebrity or role model enjoys any special privilege before the court of law.
Similarly, such person also does not incur any special liability when he faces law in the courts. Each case will have to be decided on its own merits irrespective of the status of the accused," the high court said. The court, however, rejected Rhea's brother Showik's bail plea, noting that he "appears to be a part of the (drug supply) chain" and his case would have to be distinguished from that of a consumer or an end-purchaser.
In Rhea's case, the court also observed that there was no basis for the special NDPS court's order denying her bail on the ground that she might destroy evidence. "It is also important to note that when the Applicant was produced before the Court for her first remand, the investigating agency did not seek her custody. That means, they are satisfied with her interrogation and she had cooperated in that investigation," HC said.
Rhea Chakraborty, who was arrested by the NCB on September 9 in a drugs case related to Rajput's death, walked out of Byculla women's prison here on Wednesday evening.