NCB drug case involving Rhea is ‘inquiry FIR,’ no arrests will be made, says NCB

The ‘inquiry FIR’ is numbered 15/20, the second one is 16/20 that pertains to what NCB has said is its attempt to ‘uproot the drug citadel in Bollywood’

NCB officers said Rhea’s arrest became possible as they could find money transfers made purportedly from her credit card to alleged peddlers, who have also been arrested in the case.

The Narcotics Control Bureau’s drug case against Rhea Chakraborty and six others will be an “inquiry FIR” and no arrests will be made in the case, The Indian Express reported.

The NCB case is based on purported WhatsApp chats that surfaced during an Enforcement Directorate’s probe into the actor’s bank accounts.

The 20 arrests by the NCB, including that of Rhea and her brother Showik, have been made in a different case lodged after the ‘inquiry FIR’ was registered. While the ‘inquiry FIR’ is numbered 15/20, the second one is 16/20, pertaining to what NCB has said is its attempt to “uproot the drug citadel in Mumbai, especially in Bollywood”.

Both FIRs are linked to actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death investigation.

Related news: Rhea charged for non-disclosure of Sushant’s drug habit

An NCB officer said as the first FIR has been lodged only on the basis of purported chats, it would be difficult to build a case against anyone.

“We will be treating 15/20 as an inquiry FIR. We will use the information that we get during probe in other cases, like we did in the case of Rhea, wherein we registered a second FIR, on the basis of the first FIR. Similarly, if we find incriminating evidence against the others named in 15/20, we will register another FIR, rather than charging them in 15/20,” the officer added.

An FIR is registered when a cognizable offence is disclosed as per law. The ED investigating Rhea in a money laundering case, found purported conversations about narcotics and passed it on to NCB that registered an FIR. Usually, if there is evidence of a crime, a chargesheet is filed in the FIR or else a summary report is submitted to the court if no evidence of an offence is found.

On the basis of the purported chats, Rhea, her brother Showik, Sushant’s cook Dipesh Sawant, housekeeper Samuel Miranda, talent manager Jaya Saha and former manager Shruti Modi, as well as Goa-based hotelier Gaurav Arya have been booked.

“Even while filing a chargesheet, FIR 15/20 will be used as additional information for the other FIRs registered on the basis of this case,” the officer said.

Notably, the only other FIR that has so far been registered is 16/20, in which Rhea, Showik and a former employee of producer Karan Johar’s Dharmatic Entertainment have been arrested. Kshitij Prasad, who has alleged that he was being forced to implicate Johar, is in NCB custody till Saturday.

Meanwhile, the NCB will have to limit its scope of investigation to a period from early 2019 till now due to the absence of availability of call data records (CDR) beyond then.

Related news: NCB opposes bail plea of Rhea, Showik; HC reserves application

“We will get call data records for as back as 2019 from telecom companies. Hence, for instances of narcotics procurement pre-2019, it will be difficult to substantiate charges of consumption even if we find chats to that effect, as it will be difficult to complete the chain of evidence,” said an officer.

So far, NCB has retrieved chats of actor Deepika Padukone that go beyond that time period.

Currently, it is awaiting retrieved data from the cellphones of Padukone as well as actors Sara Ali Khan and Shraddha Kapoor among others.

Officers said Rhea’s arrest became possible as they could find money transfers made purportedly from her credit card to alleged peddlers, who have also been arrested in the case. An officer claimed that call data records also showed the presence of Showik and Miranda at the same place around the same time as the arrested peddlers, circumstantially showing procurement.

In order to arrest someone even for consumption, NCB will need to complete the chain of evidence in the form of phone communication with a peddler and transfer of money among other things, officers said.

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