Mumbai: A Special NDPS court has refused bail to Aryan Khan, son of Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan, Arbaaz Merchant and Munmun Dhamecha, in the cruise ship drug case.

Special Judge VV Patil pronounced the order

The NCB arrested them on October 3, following a raid at the international departure terminal of a Goa-bound cruise the previous day.

They are 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, after six and five grams of charas was allegedly seized from his friend Merchant and model Dhamecha respectively.

The court reserved their bail pleas for orders last Thursday, after hearing the Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh for the Narcotics Control Bureau and Senior Advocate Amit Desai for Khan.

Advocate Taraq Sayed appeared for Merchant and Advocate Ali Kashif Deshmukh for Dhamecha.

The ASG argued that Khan was a regular consumer of drugs, and the contraband found on Merchant was for both of them to have a “blast” on the cruise. The agency also claimed that prima facie Khan has a role in illicit procurement and distribution of contraband and his chats indicate an international link.

The NCB mainly relied on Khan’s WhatsApp Chats, the raid seizure panchnama, and two disclosure statements under section 67 of the NDPS Act.

Conversely, Senior Advocate Amit Desai argued that NCB didn’t recover contraband or money from Khan, which could’ve been used to purchase drugs. WhatsApp chats were cited for entangling Khan in the present proceedings.

Desai claimed that assuming Khan was a consumer, the legislature mandates a reformative approach as the NDPS Act was amended in 2001, and punishment for consumption was reduced to just one year. Significantly, Desai argued that while the NCB accused Khan of ‘illicit trafficking’, to oppose bail he was not booked under section 27A which deals with trafficking.

WhatsApp chats can easily be misunderstood, he said.

“None of the recoveries mentioned in the panchnama was from Aryan. If he did not have cash, he had no plans to purchase. If he had no substance, he wasn’t going to sell or consume,” Desai submitted.

Advocate Sayed also pointed out that there wasn’t a separate seizure panchnama under which NCB took charge of the mobile phones. Therefore, WhatsApp chats cannot be relied on.
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