“Not Part of Chain of Drug Dealers”: Rhea Chakraborty Spent a Month in Jail for a Media Trial

Social Commentary

“Not Part of Chain of Drug Dealers”: Rhea Chakraborty Spent a Month in Jail for a Media Trial

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

After nearly a month spent in jail and multiple denials, actor Rhea Chakraborty was finally granted bail today. The Bombay High Court in its bail order observed that “Rhea Chakraborty not part of chain of drug dealers, has no criminal antecedents.” Chakraborty had been in jail since September 8, after the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) arrested her in a drug possession case – where no drugs were found in her possession – in connection with the investigation of actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death.

She was granted conditional bail and asked to submit a bond of ₹1 lakh. Chakraborty’s brother, Showik, who has also been under arrest since September, was not granted bail. Rhea Chakraborty’s release comes at a time when the Central Bureau of Investigation has been unable to prove she had any involvement in the allegations of financially defrauding Rajput. Doctors from All India Institute of Medical Sciences have also dismissed the murder conspiracy theories by unanimously ruling Rajput’s death a suicide.

In addition to her bail bond, Chakraborty also has to abide by conditions set down by the court. These conditions include handing over her passport to the court, not travelling abroad without the court’s permission, reporting to her local police station for the next 10 days, and not meeting any other witnesses in the case.

Chakraborty’s lawyer, Satish Maneshinde, has welcomed the court’s decision to grant Rhea bail. He has called for an end to the hounding of his client by the three central agencies investigating the case, the CBI, NCB, and Enforcement Directorate.

The last month Chakraborty spent in jail appears to have been the result of a media trial rather than any legal precedent. Her release on bail is vindication for the many who pointed out how problematic and toxic the coverage of the investigation on TV news channels was.

Will the channels and anchors who relentlessly targeted Chakraborty as a scapegoat for Rajput’s death accept their mistakes, or will they revert to type and direct attention to a new sensationalised story?