The legal team of Aryan Khan told the Bombay High Court on Tuesday there was no evidence against him in the drugs-on-cruise case and was wrongly arrested as he distanced himself from the raging allegations of extortion attempt against NCB zonal director Sameer Wankhede, who came under a fresh around of attack from Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik.
There was no immediate relief for Aryan Khan (23), the jailed son of Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, as the HC adjourned to Wednesday the hearing on his bail plea after several hours of argument by the defence team headed by former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi.
Aryan Khan's lawyers Rohatgi and Satish Maneshinde argued before Justice NW Sambre that Aryan Khan is a "young boy with no prior antecedents."
"Section 64A of the Act provides immunity to those persons who have been accused of possessing small quantities. If these persons are agreeable to be sent to rehab then that should be allowed. Aryan's case is not even of possession or consumption," Rohatgi said, adding he cannot be held responsible for some other person's alleged possession of drugs.
The 23-year-old has been wrongly arrested and kept in jail for over 20 days, he said. "Aryan has no complaints whatsoever against any officer of the NCB, including its zonal director Sameer Wankhede. Aryan is not concerned with these unsavoury controversies. He completely denies any relation to this," senior counsel Rohatgi told the court.
"But today, the NCB is putting this on Aryan Khan and saying he is tampering with witnesses. This is affecting my client's case," Rohatgi argued.
He contended that the "legislative intent" behind the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, under which Aryan Khan and others were arrested was reformation in cases involving small quantities of drugs. The Act intends that young persons be treated as victims and not as accused, he added.
The case was being blown out of proportions by some people who have vested interests and the media was paying attention to it because of some unsavoury controversies, otherwise it was a simple case, he added.
"There is no evidence of consumption, no recovery of drugs and absolutely no evidence to show his participation in this so-called conspiracy and abetment as alleged by the NCB," Rohatgi said.
After Rohatgi completed his arguments, the High Court said it would continue hearing on the bail pleas of co-accused Arbaaz Merchant and Munmun Dhamecha on Wednesday. He will also hear the arguments of Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, the NCB's lawyer, on Wednesday, the judge said.
During his argument, Rohatgi pointed out that Aryan was not subjected to any medical examination to show that he had indeed consumed drugs. The senior counsel assailed the order of the special NDPS Act court refusing Aryan Khan bail on the ground he was aware that his friend Arbaaz Merchant had drugs and hence Aryan was guilty, prima facie, of "conscious possession".
The NCB wrongly relied on WhatsApp chats of Aryan Khan as they had no connection with the present case, Rohatgi said. "The chats are of 2018, 2019 and 2020 and it has absolutely no connection with this cruise party. The chats are with some random persons, including some foreigners about drugs. This would relate to alleged consumption in the past," he said.
Rohatgi said Aryan Khan himself had not boarded the ship at the time of arrest. Aryan Khan was arrested on October 3 along with his friend Arbaaz Merchant and fashion model Dhamecha by the NCB, along with others. While Aryan and Merchant are now lodged at the Arthur Road prison, Dhamecha is at the Byculla Women's Prison.
A special court for NDPS cases had refused to grant them bail. Earlier in the day, the NCB opposed Aryan Khan's bail plea in an affidavit filed before the HC, alleging he was not just a consumer of drugs, but also involved in illicit drug trafficking.
The agency said prima facie investigation revealed that Aryan Khan used to procure drugs from Arbaaz Merchant and was in touch with "some persons abroad who appear to be part of an international drug network". The affidavit further said though drugs were not recovered from Aryan Khan, he "participated in the conspiracy"
In another development related to the cruise drugs case, a special NDPS Act court granted bail to two accused arrested in the case, Manish Rajgaria and Avin Sahu. They are the only accused who have been granted bail so far in the much publicised case, in which 20 people, including Aryan Khan, were arrested since the alleged seizure of drugs on a cruise ship off the Mumbai coast early this month.