The Bombay High Court on Wednesday adjourned the hearing in actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan’s bail plea in the Mumbai drugs-on-cruise case to Thursday, reported Live Law. The court was also hearing the pleas of co-accused Arbaaz Merchant and Munmum Dhamecha.
Aryan Khan and seven others had been detained by the Narcotics Control Bureau after a raid on a cruise party off the coast of Mumbai on October 2. The agency claimed to have seized 13 grams of cocaine, 5 grams of mephedrone, 21 grams of charas, 22 pills of MDMA (ecstasy) and Rs 1.3 lakh from the ship.
At Wednesday’s hearing, Aryan Khan’s lawyer Mukul Rohatgi argued that the arrest memo did not give true and correct grounds for his arrest. He added that Aryan Khan’s remand application was misleading.
“It [remand application] was to make one feel that the large quantities mentioned in that were recovered from Aryan Khan,” said Rohatgi. “Aryan Khan’s arrest is a direct infringement of constitutional guarantees.”
Merchant’s lawyer Amit Desai argued that Aryan Khan, Merchant and Dhamecha had not been accused of using drugs as per the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, Live Law reported.
“[There was] no allegation in the arrest memo of ‘use’,” he added. “So there was a clear understanding that this was a case of nothing more than personal consumption.”
The lawyer added that in case of minor offences, arrest is an exception. “Now it has become ‘arrest is the rule and bail is the exception’.”
Desai claimed that the prosecution had misled the special court by saying that the three accused persons were arrested for conspiracy, ANI reported.
“As far as WhatsApp chat is concerned, it is very clear that there is not a single chat which supports the conspiracy theory in this case,” he added. “We are struggling with the problem of media trial.”
Desai said the arrest was “a direct infringement of constitutional guarantees”. He added that the accused could also called in for questioning by the agencies, and therefore bail could be granted.
Dhamecha’s counsel Ali Kashif Khan said his client never consumed drugs and described the case against her as “completely bogus”.
He further argued that the NCB’s case was based only on WhatsApp chats. “Even if their case is taken on face value, I was found in conscious possession of 5gms. Small quantity,” he added.
On Tuesday, advocate Mukul Rohatgi had told the Bombay High Court that there was no case of consumption, sale or purchase of drugs against Aryan Khan.
Aryan Khan’s counsel claimed that the case against him was based on some irrelevant and old WhatsApp chats, NDTV reported. The advocate added that accused persons in the cruise ship case were young people, who should be sent for rehabilitation instead of being made to face a trial.
But the Narcotics Control Bureau has opposed the bail petition, claiming that there were attempts to influence witnesses in the case. The agency also claimed that there were links to the members of an international drug network.
Aryan Khan had been denied bail on two previous occasions despite his lawyers arguing before the court that no drugs were found in his possession during the raids.
On October 20, judge VV Patil of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances court had rejected this argument. He said that Aryan Khan knew that co-accused Arbaaz Merchant was carrying narcotic substances in his shoes at the party.
Questions about NCB probe
Several questions have been raised about the anti-drugs agency’s investigation of the high-profile case.
Prabhakar Sail, reportedly a witness in the case, has claimed to have overheard private investigator Kiran Gosavi talk about a Rs 18-crore deal, of which Rs 8 crore was to be paid to the anti-drug agency’s zonal head Sameer Wankhede. The officer is heading the investigation in the drugs case.
Sail also claimed that soon after Khan’s arrest, he was made to sign on 10 sheets of blank paper at the Narcotics Control Bureau office.
Sail is the bodyguard of Gosavi, who was seen in a selfie with Khan inside the anti-drug agency’s office. Gosavi, also a witness in the case, has gone missing, Sail claimed in an affidavit on Sunday.
Khan has distanced himself from the witnesses and the accusations and said that the decision on his bail should not be influenced by the controversy.