by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group
The tremors of Sushant Singh Rajput’s case continue to haunt the powers that be. The CBI was wise enough not to act in haste and harass Rhea Chakraborty in the abatement to suicide case. But the Narcotics Control Bureau headed by Rakesh Asthana seems to have bitten more than he could chew. He went overboard in the Bollywood drug probe case by summoning all and sundry and arresting petty drug peddlers and consumers. Finally, the Supreme Court gave a shock to the NCB and took away its key power. The NCB is among the four such investigation agencies where any statement made by a person before an officer is admissible as a confessional statement. Normally, a statement before the magistrate under section 164 CRPc alone is treated as a confessional statement. The NCB, Enforcement Directorate, Customs, Excise and even Income Tax officers have been given the powers under the law to treat statements before an officer as a confession before the court. The CBI, state police and other agencies do not enjoy this privilege. But the SC gave a shock to the NCB under the Narcotics Drugs Psychotropic Substance (NDPS) Act, 1985, for misusing this power to extract confession and struck down the very clause. The court said that NCB such officers of the NCB are police officers and statements made before them are not admissible as evidence. This is a huge setback to the NCB and the Union Home ministry is worried as NCB is under it. The SC ruling may also cast a shadow on the enormous powers of the Enforcement Directorate and other such bodies. Insiders in the government say that the Ministry may ask for a review of the ruling which gave a split 2:1 verdict. But for now, NCB wings have been clipped.
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