A Mumbai court on Sunday remanded comedian Bharti Singh and her husband Harsh Limbachiya, to judicial custody till December 4. The couple filed bail pleas through advocate Ayaz Khan soon after being remanded to judicial custody. The court will hear their bail pleas on Monday.
The NCB arrested Singh on Saturday and her husband early on Sunday following seizure of ganja (cannabis) from their house in suburban Andheri. The couple was produced before a magistrate court in Mumbai on Sunday afternoon. "The court has remanded both the accused to judicial custody till December 4," NCB prosecutor Atul Sarpande told PTI.
The NCB has also sought Limbachiya’s custody for questioning but did not seek Singh’s custody and told the court that she may be sent to judicial custody.
Khan argued that there is no question of custodial interrogation as the alleged substance recovered is lesser than the “small quantity” as prescribed under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. The magistrate accepted the arguments and noted that custodial interrogation was not required and that the accused have already been questioned for a considerable time on Saturday.
Singh and Limbachiyaa have been booked under sections 20(b)(ii)(A) (involves small quantity of drugs) and 8(c) (possession of drugs) and 27 (consumption of drugs) of the NDPS Act.
"Under these sections, the punishment is six months to one year. This is not a case where the accused needs to be kept behind bars. I am surprised that the NCB is taking such an action of arrest in cases where the quantity (seized) is less than the prescribed small quantity. The NCB mandate is larger than this,” Khan told PTI.
In their bail pleas, Singh and Limbachiya have requested to be released claiming that since they do not have any criminal antecedents, there is no question of them absconding.
Asked about the NCB’s claim that both Singh and Limbachiya have accepted that they consume drugs, Khan said, “Any statement alleged to have been made before the NCB or any of its officials is inadmissible pursuant to a recent judgment passed by the Supreme Court.”
Acting on a tip-off, the NCB on Saturday conducted raids at Singh's office and residence as part of its probe into the alleged drug by members of the entertainment industry.
Possession of ganja up to 1,000 gms is considered a small quantity, which attracts jail term up to six months and/or fine of Rs 10,000. Possession of commercial quantity-- 20 kg or more-- can attract up to 20 years imprisonment. For any quantity in between, the punishment can be as much as 10 years in jail, an official said. "Singh's name had cropped up during the interrogation of a drug peddler," the official added.
Singh has appeared in a number of comedy and reality shows on TV and also hosted a few such shows.
The NCB has been probing alleged drug use by the Bollywood fraternity after the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput in June. The central agency had arrested Rajput's girlfriend, actress Rhea Chakraborty, her brother Showik, some employees of the late film star and a few others in a drugs-related probe. Rhea Chakraborty and a few other accused were granted bail by the Bombay High Court in October. Showik's bail plea was rejected by the High Court.