The court has rejected all three bail pleas filed by Aryan Khan, Arbaaz Merchant and Munmun Dhamecha who were arrested in the cruise ship drugs case.

Aryan Khan surrounded by mediapersonsPTI
news Court Wednesday, October 20, 2021 - 14:53

A special NDPS court in Mumbai has rejected the bail plea of Aryan Khan, the son of Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan, as well as the pleas filed by two others arrested in connection with the Mumbai cruise ship drugs bust. Aryan Khan and two others — Arbaaz Merchant and Munmun Dhamecha —  had sought bail from the court of VV Patil, special judge for cases under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act. Earlier, during the hearing of the bail applications, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Anil Singh appeared for the NCB and claimed in court that there was evidence to show that Aryan Khan was a regular consumer of drugs for the last few years. He also reiterated the charge of conspiracy against Aryan, based on his WhatsApp chats.

When the matter was called out for order in the afternoon, special judge Patil said, "Rejected." Aryan, Arbaaz and Munmun will now have to approach the Bombay High Court for bail. Aryan Khan and the others have been booked for offences under Sections 8(c), 20(b), 27, 28, 29 and 35 of the NDPS Act. Aryan Khan had in his bail plea said the NCB's contention that he was involved in conspiracy and illicit drug trafficking was absurd, and pointed out that there was no recovery of drugs made from him.

Since his arrest, the NCB has maintained that though nothing was recovered from him personally, Aryan's WhatsApp chats revealed his links with drug peddlers. The ASG further contended that drugs were seized from Merchant at the docks, and they were meant for consumption by both Aryan and him. The NCB has also been claiming 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." The NCB itself had alleged that Aryan disclosed the name of Achit Kumar, another arrested accused, he said. The agency can continue the probe, but the allegation of links to an international racket against Aryan is "inherently absurd and false," he said.

"I don't think there can be a debate that the entire world is fighting the drug menace. We got our freedom and we must protect it and save the younger generation from the drug menace," the lawyer said.

On Aryan's WhatsApp chats, Desai said today's youth have different ways of expressing themselves which might be a "torture" for the older generation. The language could seem like something different than what ought to be (expected) in a court of law and might lead to suspicion, advocate Desai said. "These are private moments which are being investigated. You can go ahead and investigate...But it has nothing to do with illicit behaviour, illicit drug trafficking," he added.

Aryan Khan had lived abroad for some time, and a lot of things are "legitimate" in other countries, the lawyer added. After hearing both parties, the court had reserved orders for October 20.

Aryan, Arbaaz Merchant and Munmun Dhamecha, who were among those arrested by the NCB on October 3, had been denied bail by a magistrate's court which said it can not hear the pleas in a case triable by a special NDPS court. While Aryan and Merchant are lodged at Arthur Road jail, Dhamecha is at Byculla women's prison in the city.

Based on a tip-off that a rave party was scheduled on the ship off the Mumbai coast, an NCB team, led by its zonal director Sameer Wankhede, raided the Goa-bound Cordelia cruise on October 2 evening and allegedly seized drugs.

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