Bombay HC Grants Bail to Aryan Khan, 2 Others After 3-Day Hearing in Cruise Drugs Case

Bombay HC Grants Bail to Aryan Khan, 2 Others After 3-Day Hearing in Cruise Drugs Case

New Delhi: The Bombay high court has allowed bail to Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan, and co-accused Arbaaz Merchant and Munmun Dhamecha, in the high profile cruise drugs case.

Khan, Merchant and Dhamecha were arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on October 3 and booked under sections of the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) for possession, consumption, sale or purchase of banned drugs, conspiracy and abetment.

The three have been incarcerated for 25 days. Twenty-three-year-old Khan is at present in judicial custody and lodged at the Arthur Road prison, where Merchant is also imprisoned. Dhamecha is at the Byculla Prison.

On Thursday, the court pronounced a one-line order admitting the bail applications.

A single bench of Justice N.W. Sambre said, “All three pleas are allowed. I will pass detailed orders by tomorrow evening.”When Rohatgi asked for cash bail, the court pressed for surety and said it will announce the bail conditions tomorrow.

“I could have given the order also tomorrow. But I gave it today,” Justice Sambre said.Aryan’s counsel, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, said after the three-day hearing that all three accused are expected to be released by Friday or Saturday.

The bench heard senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi and Amit Desai for Aryan and Arbaaz Merchant and advocate Kashiff Ali for Munmun Dhamecha.

“Until the high court releases the order, the three will not be released from jail, so we request your patience,” advocate Satish Maneshinde told reporters outside the court today.

On October 20, a special judge of an NDPS court V.V. Patil had denied bail to Aryan Khan primarily citing two reasons – voluntary confession statements recorded by NCB officials under Section 67 of the NDPS Act, in which Aryan Khan and his friend admitted that they were in possession of substances, and Khan’s WhatsApp chats.

In both these cited reasons, it appears that the court did not follow precedent and established principles of law, an analysis on The Wire had explored.

Khan and the two others had then approached Bombay high court.

After the hearing on Wednesday, which went on for over two hours, Justice N.W. Sambre had said he would hear Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, who is representing the NCB, on Thursday.

“Tomorrow we will try to finish it,” the judge had said.

The case has been marked by allegations of extortion by a witness, Prabhakar Sail, and the Nationalist Congress Party against NCB investigator Sameer Wankhede. The latter has moved Bombay high court against possible coercive action by Mumbai police. Meanwhile, a controversial witness, K.P. Gosavi, whose selfie with Khan had gone viral after his arrest, has been detained.

On Thursday, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, representing the NCB, told the high court that the case against the accused is not for consumption but for ‘conscious possession and plan to consume’, according to Bar and Bench.

Singh sought to highlight WhatsApp chats of Khan and said it “cannot be a coincidence that so many people were on the cruise” and “eight were found with drugs.”

He said that the total quantity of drugs recovered is “commercial quantity” under the NDPS Act.Rohatgi, representing Khan, said, “There was no conspiracy because there was no meeting of minds. There was no discussion that they will meet, that they will get the substance and smoke – that is conspiracy.”

He also said that the only person he knew was Arbaaz Merchant.

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