The Bombay High Court on Friday temporarily suspended a look out circular (LOC) issued against actor Rhea Chakraborty’s brother Showik — who was booked by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in an alleged drugs case in connection with the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput — while permitting him to travel to Australia between September 17 and 25.
A division bench of Justices Ajey S Gadkari and Sharmila U Deshmukh was hearing Showik’s interim application, seeking suspension of the LOC, which was issued by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against the applicant based on the FIR registered against him on August 6, 2020.
Advocate Ayaz Khan, representing the applicant, submitted that a special court in its September 6 order had directed the NCB to return Showik’s passport, permitting him to travel abroad between September 17 and 24.
Khan urged that the HC needs to suspend the CBI’s LOC issued against the applicant, enabling him to travel to Australia.
The special court, while granting a bail in December 2020, had directed Showik to deposit his passport to the NCB and not to leave the country without the court’s prior permission. On September 6, it granted permission to Showik to travel abroad, while directing the NCB to return the former’s passport. The court had also noted that the NCB did not follow the due procedure, while retaining Showik’s passport.
Thereafter, Showik had moved the HC for the withdrawal of LOC issued against him by the CBI, while telling the court that he intended to travel to Australia for work purposes and would comply with the conditions laid down by the court.
Advocate Kuldeep Patil for CBI told the HC that a probe by the central agency was underway, and an FIR in the case was registered at the Rajeev Nagar police station in Patna in July 2020; and the plea seeking suspension of the LOC ought to be filed in Patna.
After considering submissions, the bench observed, “It is not stated before this court that the applicant is a flight-risk. It is also not disputed that the applicant has strong ties in India as his parents and sister are residing in India. Considering the above, we see no impediment to temporarily suspend the lookout circular issued against the applicant for the period September 17 to September 25 to permit the applicant to travel to Australia on the following terms and conditions,” observed the bench.
The HC also directed Showik to furnish a full itinerary of his overseas travel to the CBI before his departure, and the same should include addresses where he would stay, and contact numbers on which he could be contacted during the said period. It has also asked Showik to deposit his parents’ passports with the HC registry, with the same to be kept in safe custody. Showik has also been directed not to apply for renewal or extension of the HC order until he returns to India.
The bench said that “the authorities, on all points of departure, would permit the applicant to pass through immigration and to board his flight or flights, irrespective of whether the immigration system was updated, and whether the CBI has informed the immigration authorities about the same”.
Staying operation of the LOC for the said period (temporary), the HC has directed Showik to report to the CBI office on or before September 27 after he returns to India; and posted the hearing in his interim plea to September 29, for reporting compliance of the HC order.
A special court in 2022 had permitted Showik’s sister Rhea to travel abroad for an awards ceremony, but she could not travel after being informed by the CBI that an LOC was pending against her.
First published on: 16-09-2023 at 16:09 IST