Aryan Khan gets bail after 25 days
Aryan Khan, son of actor Shah Rukh Khan, was on Thursday granted bail by Bombay High Court, 25 days after his arrest by the Narcotics Control Bureau following an alleged drugs haul from a cruise ship off the Mumbai coast.
However, Aryan is unlikely to walk out of Arthur Road jail immediately as the court is yet to pronounce its operative order on the bail conditions.
A single bench of Justice N.W. Sambre also granted bail to co-accused Arbaaz Merchant and Munmun Dhamecha.
“All three applications are allowed. I will pass detailed orders by tomorrow evening,” Justice Sambre said when Aryan’s counsel Mukul Rohatgi was putting forth his arguments. Aryan’s advocates sought permission to submit cash bail, which the court refused and said surety had to be given.
“I could have given the order tomorrow also. But I gave it today,” Justice Sambre said.
The legal team of Aryan, 23, will now try to complete the formalities for his release by Friday or Saturday. Justice Sambre said he would pass a detailed order assigning reasons later.
Additional solicitor-general (ASG) Anil Singh, appearing for the NCB, commenced his arguments at 2.58pm and completed a little after 4.10pm. Then Rohatgi, a former attorney-general, started his rejoinder arguments that went on for about 15 minutes.
Justice Sambre interjected abruptly, tossing the case-related papers towards his staff and saying: “All three applications are allowed.”
While hearing the NCB’s arguments, Justice Sambre sought to know on what basis the agency was saying that Aryan had dealt with a commercial quantity of drugs. Singh replied that Aryan had made an attempt to deal with a commercial quantity.
“WhatsApp chats show this. The NCB has also obtained a certificate under Section 65B of the Indian Evidence Act to authenticate that the electronic evidence has been collected from the accused’s phone,” he said.
Singh argued that the NCB had got “secret information” that around 11 people were going to consume drugs on the cruise, which was raided by the central agency on October 2.
“At the time of the raid, out of the 11 people, eight were apprehended and most of them were found with drugs. This cannot be a coincidence. This is why the NCB is saying it is a conspiracy,” Singh said.
The court asked if the NCB’s case was that of cumulative effect. Singh agreed: “Aryan Khan and Merchant are connected with drug peddlers and hence cumulative effect attracts Sections 28 and 29 of the NDPS Act.”
Aryan, his friend Arbaaz and model Munmun were booked under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) for possession, consumption, sale/purchase of banned drugs, conspiracy and abetment.
Rohatgi said conspiracy meant there had to be a “meeting of minds”.
“Aryan does not know any of the other accused in the case except Arbaaz Merchant. There is absolutely no material to show conspiracy,” he argued.
So far, 20 people have been arrested.
Singh said Aryan and Arbaaz were habitual consumers of drugs. “Our record shows that Aryan Khan has been procuring drugs in bulk and commercial quantities. These are hard drugs. He (Aryan) has been in contact with drug peddlers,” the ASG argued.
“There is a chance of tampering with evidence or witnesses in the case. This is NCB’s apprehension based on the affidavit filed by one independent witness in the case,” Singh said.
He opposed Aryan’s argument that there was no drug recovery from him and said there was conscious possession as he was aware that Arbaaz was carrying charas that was meant for consumption during the journey to Goa.