Rhea Chakraborty: Everything you need to know about the actor’s bail hearing

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) of India has filed a special petition before the Supreme Court challenging the bail granted to actor Rhea Chakraborty by the Bombay High Court. The hearing is scheduled for Thursday 18 March.

Chakraborty, 28, was arrested last year over the high profile death of her boyfriend and fellow Bollywood star Sushant Singh Rajput, in a case that gripped the nation.

Police said Rajput’s case appeared to be one of suicide, but the NCB alleged Chakraborty was responsible for procuring drugs for her boyfriend before his death and the incident led to a wide-reaching probe into drugs and Bollywood at large.

Chakraborty was granted bail almost a month after her arrest on 8 September. At the Bombay High Court, a judge granting her bail explained: “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.”

Justice Sarang V Kotwal also granted bail to Rajput’s domestic helps Samuel Miranda and Dipesh Sawant on 7 October.

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Rajput’s body was found in his apartment in Bandra, Mumbai under mysterious circumstances on 14 June. He was 34. Several conspiracy theories soon surrounded his death, and calls for “justice” in his name became prominent parts of political campaigning for the later elections in Rajput’s home state of Bihar.

The court in its bail order had mentioned that there was no reason to believe that Chakraborty might destroy evidence – prosecutors’ main argument for keeping her in custody. It noted that while she may have “committed an offence involving contraband” there was evidence to suggest this was in “commercial quantity”.

Earlier this month, the NCB filed a 12,000-page charge sheet naming 34 people including Chakraborty and her brother Showik Chakraborty, claiming it was based on the accounts of some 200 witnesses. It accuses Chakraborty of being an “active member of the drug syndicate” supplying narcotics to Bollywood stars.

Chakraborty’s arrest on 8 September divided the nation between Rajput fans who held her responsible for his death and even believed several conspiracy theories, fuelled by media reports attributed to unnamed investigators, that Chakraborty poisoned her boyfriend. This was despite a post mortem report making it clear that Rajput died of asphyxia due to hanging.

Several Bollywood actors voiced their concern about Chakraborty’s trial by media. Actor and activist Swara Bhaskar tweeted: “I don’t think even #Kasab was subjected to the kind of witch-hunt on media.. & media trial that #RheaChakrobarty is being subjected to! Shame on Indian Media.. Shame on us for being a toxic voyueristic (sic) public consuming this poisonous hysteria.”

Chakraborty was asked to produce a bond of Rs 100,000 (£1,000) and told she had to ask for the court’s permission in case she needed to travel.

In August last year, Chakraborty spoke in an interview with a TV channel about several allegations against her, including a litany of charges made by Rajput’s family. Talking about Rajput’s depression, she said: “People judge depression so poorly that people find it difficult to communicate. Person going through it feels misunderstood.

“In Sushant’s case, I don’t understand why he would do this. His condition had worsened in the lockdown. Contrary to what people think, people who are depressed can laugh.” She told the channel that Rajput’s family knew about his depression and she had informed them of his medication.

The Narcotics Control Bureau took over the Rajput investigation when WhatsApp chats retrieved from Chakraborty’s phone allegedly revealed conversations around the procurement of drugs. She had said that the charges against her were severe given the quantity of drugs involved and that the agency doctored a false narrative against her.

The hearing is now scheduled for 18 March before a bench including India’s most senior judge, chief justice SA Bobde, as well as justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.