Australian national gets bail in drugs case

No substantial material against Bartels, says NDPS court

A special court has granted bail to Australian national Paul Bartels in an alleged drugs case. “In the absence of any substantial material, taking into account no contraband material was found, except statements of co-accused and WhatsApp messages, refusing to extend the concession of bail may not be justified,” the special holiday Narcotics Drugs Psychotropic Substances Act court said on Thursday.

There were only the statements of co-accused Nikhil Saldanha and Agisilaos Demetriades and WhatsApp messages exchanged between him and Mr. Demetriades to show the involvement of Mr. Bartels. From the said messages, it could be contended that Mr. Bartels was dealing in drugs as a peddler/supplier. “At this stage, those WhatsApp messages are not substantial and sufficient to hold the role of the accused as a peddler/supplier of drugs,” it said.

He was arrested on November 11 during a house search by officers of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) after the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput. However, no incriminating material or contraband was found.

Special judge H.S. Satbhai said, “The fact that NCB, after the arrest of the accused and on his production before the metropolitan magistrate, did not ask for his custody goes to show that there was no material available to interrogate him and to make further investigation.”

The court took into consideration that co-accused Mr. Saldanha, at whose instance Mr. Bartels was arrested, had been released on bail, along with Mr. Demetriades, whose role was similar to that of Mr. Bartels. On the ground of parity, he too required to be released on bail, the court held. The court directed Mr. Bartels to furnish a bond of ₹1 lakh or one or two sureties.

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