Actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son, Aryan Khan, who has been arrested in connection with a drugs case, was refused bail on Wednesday by a special court in Mumbai, Live Law reported. The court also refused to grant bail to co-accused Arbaz Merchant and Munmun Dhamecha.
Aryan Khan’s lawyers have filed an appeal before the Bombay High Court, challenging the special court’s order. Justice SW Sambre is likely to take up the case for hearing on Thursday.
In his order rejecting the bail plea, Judge VV Patil of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances court noted that WhatsApp chats retrieved from Khan’s phone showed that he was involved in “illicit drug activities for narcotic substances on [a] regular basis”.
The court held that the chats showed that Khan was part of a nexus that involved drug suppliers and peddlers, The Indian Express reported.
“Perusal of WhatsApp chats reveals that there are chats of accused number 1 [Khan] about drugs with unknown persons,” the order stated. “There is also reference to bulk quantity and hard drug in the chats...It cannot be said that accused no 1 is not likely to commit similar offence while on bail.”
The court also rejected the defence counsels’ argument that the seizure of Khan’s phone had not been mentioned in the panchnama, and so the WhatsApp chats could not be relied upon as an evidence. A panchnama is a document in which an investigating officer records evidence collected from the location of a possible crime.
The court observed that a certificate under the Indian Evidence Act was not necessary at this stage of investigation in the case.
The court did not agree to Khan’s lawyers’ argument that no drugs were found on him when the Narcotics Control Bureau had raided a party on a cruise ship off the coast of Mumbai on October 3. Khan, Merchant, Dhamecha and five others were arrested after the raids.
In his order, Judge Patil said that Khan was aware that Merchant was hiding narcotic substances in his shoes at the cruise ship party. The court said that this amounted to “conscious possession”.
“...Although no possession is found from accused number 1 (Khan), six grams of charas was found from accused number 2 (Merchant) of which Aryan had the knowledge and thus it can be said that it was in conscious possession of both the accused,” the court said.
In their statements, Khan and Merchant had said that they were in possession of charas for their “consumption and enjoyment”, the court said, according to Live Law.
The order added that Section 29 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, which deals with conspiracy and abetment, will be applicable in the matter as “it transpires that all the accused are connected in the same thread”.
“During the interrogation they [all accused] disclosed names of persons who supplied contraband to them,” the order said. “Thus all these facts prima facie go to show that accused acted in conspiracy with each other.”
The order means that Khan and Merchant will continue to be in Arthur Road prison in Mumbai, while Dhamecha will be at the Byculla women’s prison.
After the raid on the cruise ship, Khan was initially remanded to the custody of the anti-drugs agency, but was then sent to judicial custody for 14 days on October 7.
On October 14, the court reserved its order on Khan’s bail plea till Wednesday.
The Narcotics Control Bureau has said that it seized 13 grams of cocaine, 5 grams of mephedrone, 21 grams of charas, 22 pills of MDMA (ecstasy) and Rs 1,33,000 from the cruise ship.
Aryan Khan’s lawyer Desai, however, told the court that his client did not have any cash on him during the agency’s raid, and that no contraband was seized from him.
The lawyer also said that some of the drugs seized were legal in other countries.
Desai argued against treating all the petitions together, saying that the court needed to keep in mind the facts of the case and not just the larger picture.
On the other hand, the Narcotics Control Bureau, in its reply to the bail petitions, asked the court not to treat each case separately as all the accused were a part of larger chain and involved in conspiracy and committing illegal acts.