The Supreme Court on Thursday granted bail to Kannada actor Ragini Dwivedi, who was arrested in the Sandalwood drug case. Ragini has been in custody since September and in November, the Karnataka HC had dismissed her bail plea. But the apex court bench headed by Justice Rohinton F Nariman has set aside this order now, reported Live Law.
Keeping aside the Karnataka HC order, SC bench stated that â€śthough Petitioner has been found violating certain sections of (Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances) NDPS Act, prima facie if anyone offence has been made out, it can be said to be made out under Section 27(b) for consumption of certain drugs.â€ť
Advocate Sidharth Luthra, who appeared for the actor, stated to SC that the actor had been in custody for the past 140 days while the co-accused in the case were out on bail. Raginiâ€™s counsel argued that no contraband was seized from her but the â€śonly thing is consumption of less than 0.5gm of contrabandâ€ť.
Meanwhile, the solicitor general defended the HC order stating multiple messages allegedly shared between the actor and various drug peddlers. The solicitor general also stated that she had tried to tamper evidence in the case.
Hearing the counsels, the SC bench upheld the argument of Raginiâ€™s counsel that no drugs were found from here and that the entire case against her was based on statements.
â€śAt the highest, it can only be assumed that the petitioner consumed drugs at the parties. What is important to note is that the petitioner has been arrested also on a conspiracy charge which the HC itself found to be tenuous and said nothing about the charge,â€ť the SC bench said.
Ragini Dwivedi was taken in for questioning from her residence in Bengaluruâ€™s Yelahanka on the morning of September 4 by the Central Crime Branch. The actor was among the first few accused persons, who were arrested in connection with the case. The CCB began probing the drug case after the Narcotics Control Bureau arrested a woman named Anikha, Anoop Mohammed and Ravindra with huge amounts of Ecstacy and LSD blots. The NCB officials claimed that the trio were selling drugs to Kannada actors and singers since 2015, when they started their racket.
Ragini Dwivediâ€™s name cropped up in the case after the CCB began surveilling her close friend Ravi Shankar, a clerk at the Regional Transport Office in Jayanagar. The CCB found that Ravi Shankar was procuring drugs and selling it to celebrities at high profile parties. On September 3, the CCB arrested Ravi Shankar, who allegedly mentioned Ragini Dwivediâ€™s name. The CCB officials claimed that Ragini Dwivedi procured the drugs from Ravi Shankar and distributed it to persons she had invited to for the high-profile parties in Bengaluru.
Ragini Dwivedi was denied bail on September 28, 2020 by the special court trying Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances cases in Bengaluru. She and another Sandalwood actor Sanjjana Galrani, who was arrested in connection with the case on September 8, had applied for bail, which was denied by the sessions court. The two actors were in police custody till September 14 and were lodged in the undertrial block at the Parappana Agrahara Central Prison subsequently.
On November 4, the Karnataka High Court denied bail to both Ragini Dwivedi and Sanjjana Galrani. On December 11, 2020, the Karnataka High court granted bail to actor Sanjjana Galrani on medical grounds. Her counsel had submitted test reports stating that Sanjjana needed medical attention as she suffers from asthma and polycystic ovarian syndrome. The health check report called for immediate medical attention, due to which she was granted bail. Meanwhile, Raginiâ€™s legal counsel moved the Supreme Court seeking bail.