Khan’s counsel Satish Maneshinde denied that the chats brought forth any evidence against the 23-year-old son of actor Shahrukh Khan from who there was absolutely no recovery of any drugs either, said no case was made out for further police custody with the NCB.
The Esplanade court after around a three hour hearing, extended the trio’s remand of NCB custody to October 7. In a separate order, it also granted NCB the custody of five other accused who were arrested on Sunday but produced on Monday, in the same case of the Bureau’s raid, on a Mumbai-Goa cruise ship, led by its officer Sameer Wankhede.
Maneshinde added, “Khan has cooperated. Has no criminal antecedents. Has shown his good conduct, not run away. What ever chats they say when Khan was abroad does not show any link to any international drug chain.’’
The NCB sought the trio’s custody till October 11 and said that in its scrutiny of the mobile phone “there are several suspected characters, whose identification is still to be established by accused Aryan Khan.”
The application parts of which were read out by additional solicitor general Anil Singh, who appeared for NCB with advocates Aditya Thakkar, Shriram Shirsat and Advait Sethna, said “prima facie investigation conducted reveals that there is incriminating material in form of whatsapp chat etc clearly showing the nexus of these respondents with suppliers and drug peddlers on a regular basis.’’
The plea was for a probe for corroboration. “On the basis of intelligence information from the accused, the NCB conducted another raid operation in view thereof, it is imperative for a thorough investigation that these persons are confronted with each other.’’ “The above incriminating coupled with the leads in the investigation given by these respondents in their voluntary statements needs to be verified and corroborated. All this in the wake of ongoing investigation, the link has to be verified and corroborated,’’ said the application which was heard by Additional chief metropolitan magistrate R M Nerlikar.
Singh cited a 2020 Judgement of Bombay high court in Rhea Chakraborty’s bail order to submit that the HC has held that all offences under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) are non-bailable, even if the defence may say the offences against the accused are bailable.
Maneshinde, arguing at some length, in turn cited several judgments and orders to argue that the court is not without powers to grant bail once it is shown that the investigating agency has no material to base its case on.
In this case, Maneshinde said, “whatever chats they had, the NCB had two days to probe. Have they (the NCB) found anything? Nothing they have found against Khan. This is not a case for further custody.’’
ASG, Singh for the NCB also said that the ai of the NDPS Act is to curb drug use and abuse and prevent suppliers and trafficking. He said the chats showing links to an international drug chain may need probing and NCB may take help of other agencies for its probe. He also said that a new arrest of a supplier was made after a fresh raid. “In the raid we found commercial quantities of drugs.’’ were found.
Singh added, “now a days it has become common to see persons and college students taking drugs. Young people consider these high profile people as role models. Unless we probe the person doing drugs how can we find the source of the drugs, the suppliers and financiers to break the racket.’’
“Ultimately we have to crack the entire gang.’’
For Arbaaz Merchant,26, Khan’s friend, the co-accused from who NCB said it recovered 6 gm of Charas, his advocate Taraq Sayed said “in most cases NCB comes up with cases of small quantity, for which no further custodial interrogation is needed and say that they are going to unearth a conspiracy. Sayed said NCB has not He said the NCB has to show what is the recovery and what evidence it has against each accused. “Does the NCB have any connection between the accused and the alleged recovery from a suppliers?” He too said his client has cooperated and further custody is not warranted as did advocate Ali Kaashif for the third accused Munmun Dhamecha, 39. Kaashif submitted, “She has no connection with Khan and Merchant. She was called on the cruise as a guest. Even her room was booked by another person and no incriminating substance was found on her during screening.’’ The NCB said 5 gram hashish was allegedly found on the floor and not on her personal possession he argued. He said she was hardly in the room for few minutes when the raid happened and two others who were present are not made accused. In any case the quantity is small and custody not required.
For the five accused in their fresh remand, advocate Kushal Mor with Marmik Shah for Gomit Chopra said her custody was not warranted, as did advocate Sartaj Sheikh for a co-accused and other defence advocates. Mor said why was his client not produced on Sunday itself? The advocates said the arrest is illegal as they were detained illegally since Saturday.
NCB counsel Sethna said their arrest was shown in the remand plea as Sunday evening. The court said whether the arrest is illegal and they were detained for over 24 hours is a matter of a fact dispute but their presence is required with other accused for the investigation.
In his order, the Additional CMM noted that NCB case against the trio was “of involvement, of consumption, sale and purchase of Contraband’’ and they were “aArrested in connection with seizure of 13 gram of Cocaine, 5 gram of MD, 21 grams of Charas and 22 pills of MDMA and 1.33 lakhs in cash.’’
The NCB wants to confront the accused with others over the “shocking inormation from Khan and incriminating material from his phone showing pics chats pointing towards international supply needs to be investigated,’’ the Magistrate recorded in his order. It also noted that Maneshinde said whatever was recovered was from the ship and nothing from Khan.
Maneshinde as well as Sayed argued that the roles do not disclose commission of any offence by their clients, Khan and Merchant.
“Investigation is required,’’ said the court in its order adding that it was of prime importance since the NCB submitted that co-accused were found in possession of some intermediate (between small and commercial) quantity and these accused were accompanying them (on the cruise) “investigation is needed for the prosecution and also to prove innocence of accused.’’
The court concluded, “Presence of accused is needed for detailed investigation’’ and extended the remand to October 7.