Arbaaz Merchant says NCB planted drugs, asks for CCTV footage

The NCB has so far arrested 17 people including Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan's son Aryan Khan since the raid on a cruise ship on Saturday.
Cordelia cruise ship
Cordelia cruise ship
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Arbaaz Merchant, one of those arrested along with popular Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan's son, Aryan Khan, in connection with alleged drug seizure from a cruise ship off the Mumbai coast, has filed a bail application saying he was innocent and has been framed up. The application, filed through advocate Taraq Sayed, said Merchant had no connection whatsoever with the drugs allegedly recovered at the instance of other accused. There was no connection between Merchant and the organisers of the cruise, it added.

The bail plea also sought CCTV footage from the International Terminal of Mumbai Port Trust from 11.30 am to 8.30 pm on October 2, adding that it should be preserved until then. The plea argued that it could prove that the contraband was 'planted' with the help of CCTV footage, according to reports. 

Merchant said that the NCB allegedly recovered only six grams of 'small quantity of charas' from him, but the remand application against him and Aryan Khan mentioned a larger quantity of drugs that were recovered, which his counsel said, amounted to "misguiding" and "misleading' the court. The court asked the NCB to file its reply on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the court on Wednesday remanded four persons, alleged to be 'event organisers' who were arrested from the ship, in the custody of the NCB till October 14. Seeking their remand, the anti-drug agency told the court that they played "active role" in organising the event on the Goa-bound ship. Samir Sehgal, Manav Singhal, Bhaskar Arora and Gopal Anand were arrested on Tuesday.

According to the Narcotics Control Bureau, an `event' had been organised on the ship where drugs were allegedly being consumed. Additional chief metropolitan magistrate R M Nerlikar sent them in the NCB's custody, holding that their custodial interrogation was necessary for proper investigation.

The NCB has so far arrested 17 people including Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan`s son Aryan Khan since the raid on the ship on Saturday. Appearing for the central agency in the magistrate's court, special prosecutor Advait Sethna said Samir Sehgal and Manav Singhal were directors of a Delhi-based event management firm, and the other two were also associated with the same company.

They were "integral part of organising the event" on the ship and there was a need to confront them with other arrested accused about the incidents that took place before and after boarding the ship, Sethna argued. The NCB wanted to find out, among other things, how the accused boarded the ship and whether boarding passes or tickets were issued, he said.

Advocate Harsh Gangurde, the four accused persons' lawyer, claimed that they were taken into custody on October 4, but shown as arrested only the next day. They were, thus, not produced before the court within 24 hours of their arrest as required by law, he argued. He also claimed that no contraband was recovered from the four accused, and despite repeated requests, no blood tests were carried out.

All the four accused told the court that they were contractors and not the organisers of the event. But the court granted the NCB's request for remand.

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