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New Delhi: Rejecting Aryan Khan’s bail petition, a Mumbai sessions court on Wednesday observed that “on the face of it”, he was indulging in “illicit drug activities on a regular basis”. His WhatsApp chats also showed, prima facie, that he was in touch with drug peddlers, the court noted.
Aryan, the son of Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan, immediately filed an appeal in the Bombay high court challenging the lower court’s order.
Special judge V.V. Patil, designated to hear cases related to the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, also rejected Khan’s co-accused Arbaaz Merchant and Munmun Dhamecha’s bail applications.
The Narcotics Control Bureau had arrested the three on October 3 after a raid on the previous day at the departure station of a cruise ship. So far, 20 persons have been arrested in the case.
The special NDPS Act court in its 21-page order noted that WhatsApp chats of Aryan Khan prima facie revealed that he was “dealing in illicit drug activities on a regular basis” and therefore it cannot be said that he was not likely to commit a similar offence if released on bail.
It also held that Aryan knew that his friend and co-accused Arbaaz Merchant was in possession of drugs, and hence there was “conscious possession” even though the NCB had not found any drugs on Aryan himself.
“Considering the prima facie involvement of the applicants/accused No 1 to 3 [Aryan Khan, Merchant and Dhamecha] in the commission of grave and serious offence, this is not a fit case for granting bail,” the judge said in the order.
The material placed before it by the NCB showed on the face of it that section 29 of the NDPS Act, pertaining to conspiracy, was applicable, said the court. Therefore, it is not possible to record a satisfaction at this stage that the applicants have not committed any offence under the NDPS Act, the order said.
Case papers and voluntary statements of Aryan Khan and Arbaaz Merchant disclosed that they possessed drugs for consumption and enjoyment, the court noted further.
“These things go to show that accused No 1 (Aryan) was having knowledge of the contraband concealed by accused No 2 (Merchant) in his shoes,” it said.
“Although no contraband is found in the possession of accused No 1, six grams of charas was found in possession of accused No 2 of which accused No 1 (Aryan) was having knowledge and thus it can be said that it was in conscious possession of both the accused,” the court added.
In Aryan’s WhatsApp chats, there is a reference to “bulk quantity and hard drugs” and “there is prima facie material showing that accused No 1 was in contact with persons dealing in prohibited narcotic substances,” the order said.
“Prima facie, it appears that there is a case of conspiracy and abetment as alleged by the prosecution,” it said.
Earlier, a magistrate’s court had rejected the accused’s bail pleas, saying only a special court can hear these matters.
The trio is now in judicial custody. While Aryan Khan and Merchant are lodged at the Arthur Road prison, Dhamecha is lodged at the Byculla women’s prison in the city.
They were booked under sections 8(c) read with 20b (purchase), 27 (consumption), 28 (attempt to commit offence), 29 (abetment/ conspiracy) and 35 (presumption of culpable mental state) of the NDPS Act, LiveLaw has reported.
Appearing for the NCB, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Anil Singh had earlier claimed that there was evidence to show that Aryan Khan was a “regular consumer of drugs for the last few years.”
Khan’s lawyers have sought to highlight that nothing was recovered from him personally.
The ASG said that drugs were seized from Merchant at the docks, and they were meant for consumption by both Aryan and him and that Aryan was “in contact with members of an international drug racket.”
Senior advocate Amit Desai, representing Aryan Khan, said the NCB was pointing to an international trafficking racket, but if the consumer states from where he procured drugs, then “the chain is complete”.
On Aryan’s WhatsApp chats, which the NCB counsel had sought to establish as incriminating evidence, Desai had said that today’s youth have different ways of expressing themselves.
Meanwhile, the Nationalist Congress Party, a part of the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition, has brought several allegations against the NCB’s investigation into the case.
NCP said two people in the NCB team that raided the cruise ship were civilians and one of them is a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party. The latter confessed in a TV interview that he was, indeed, a BJP member and was an informer in the case.
The Pune police, meanwhile, have issued a lookout circular against Kiran P. Gosavi, the other civilian who was part of the raid and is reportedly a ‘private detective’. He took a viral selfie with Aryan after he was detained. Gosavi is also named as an accused in four unrelated cases of cheating.