Bollywood drug use case: Australian national gets bail

Bollywood drug use case: Australian national gets bail

Representative image: iStock Photo

A court here on Thursday granted bail to Paul Bartels, an Australian national arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) for allegedly supplying drugs to people in the film industry. Bartels, a friend of Agisilaos Demetriades, brother of actor Arjun Rampal's partner Gabriella, was arrested on November 12.

The NCB, which is probing alleged drug use in Bollywood following the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, had questioned Rampal earlier this month.

The special Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act court observed that there was no "substantial material" against Bartels.

Senior counsel Aabad Ponda and advocate Subhash Jadhav who appeared for Bartels argued that the NCB did not find anything incriminating in its search at his residence here on November 11.

Bartels, employed as an engineering manager with an international construction contractor, was accused of being part of a conspiracy to procure drugs alongwith Agisilaos Demetriades.

Judge H S Satbhai noted in the order that accusations against Bartels were said to be based on the statements of co-accused Agisilaos and Nikhil Saldanha, and certain messages exchanged between the accused persons.

"From the said messages, it is tried to contend that the accused (Bartels) is dealing in drugs....But at this stage, those messages are not substantial and sufficient to hold the role of the accused as a peddler/supplier of drugs," the court said.

The NCB after arresting Bartels did not seek his custody when he was produced before the magistrate, it noted.

"It goes to show that there was no material available with the NCB to interrogate the accused and to make further investigation," the bail order said.

The court also noted that the maximum punishment under the NDPS Act sections under which Bartels was booked is only one year, and the co-accused are already released on bail.

"In absence of any substantial material, taking into account the fact that no contraband material was found/ recovered from the accused and except the statements of the co-accused and messages, there is no substantial material to treat the accused as a peddler/ supplier of drugs, it may not be justified to refuse bail," the court said.

The court directed Bartels to furnish a bond of Rs one lakh and surrender his passport to the NCB. He shall not leave Mumbai and shall attend NCB office twice a month, it added.

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