A Mumbai court has said that the seizure of drugs from one of the accused persons during a raid on a cruise ship last month was illegal as it was conducted by an unauthorised officer, reported Live Law on Saturday.
Aryan Khan, son of actor Shah Rukh Khan is also one of the accused in the case.
In an order, Special Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Judge VV Patil said that a panch (testimony) witness and not an authorised officer, conducted search and seizure of drugs from the accused Nupur Satija’s room in the cruise ship.
Satija and co-accused Gomit Chopra were granted bail on October 30 but the court order was made available on Saturday.
The Narcotics Control Bureau had allegedly seized four ecstasy pills, weighing 1.59 grams, from Satija and four pills of ecstasy, 3 grams of cocaine and Rs 93,000 in cash from Chopra, reported Bar and Bench.
The central agency had conducted a raid on a cruise ship off the coast of Mumbai on October 2 and arrested several people, including actor Aryan Khan. The Bombay High Court granted him bail on October 28.
During the hearing of Satija’a bail plea, her lawyers, Advocate Ayaz Khan and Sartaj Sheikh argued that the seizure panchnama showed that a female panch witness searched her room at the behest of an intelligence officer.
Citing a government notification issued, Advocate Ayaz Khan said that only officers of and above the rank of an inspector in the Narcotics Control Bureau have the authority to conduct search and seizures.
Special Public Prosecutors AM Chimalkar and Advait Sethna argued that the Narcotics Control Bureau arrested people with “small, intermediate and commercial quantities” of contraband based on credible information. They claimed that the accused persons were involved in drug trafficking.
However, the court observed that WhatsApp chats between Satija and Chopra, which the prosecution had cited as evidence, was regarding consumption of drugs and not its sale and purchase.
“Therefore I find substance in the arguments advanced on behalf of applicants that on the basis of Whats App chats at the most it can be said that applicants are consumers of contraband,” the judge said in his order.
The court noted that considering the material on record, it cannot be said that prima facie there was conspiracy.
So far, 15 of the 20 accused persons in the case have been granted bail.
Cruise raid case: WhatsApp chats not enough to prove accused supplied drugs, says Mumbai court