Mumbai: A metropolitan magistrate’s court on Friday rejected bail applications of Aryan Khan, the son of Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan, and two others in a case pertaining to an alleged seizure of narcotic drugs from a cruise ship off the Mumbai coast.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate R M Nerlikar said the pleas filed by Aryan (23), Munmun Dhamecha and Arbaaz Merchant were “not maintainable”.
The trio, along with some others, were arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau on Sunday following a raid on a Goa-bound cruise ship. On Thursday, the court had rejected the NCB’s request for further custody of Aryan and seven others and instead sent them in 14-day judicial custody.
Incidentally, the court’s order rejecting bail to Aryan came on his mother Gauri Khan’s 51st birthday.
During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Anil Singh, appearing for the NCB, opposed the bail pleas, arguing that a magistrate has no jurisdiction to hear these applications.
In cases under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, all matters should be heard by a special court, he said, citing several previous rulings.
Singh also argued that it could not be a coincidence that all the accused were found at the same place, and alleged that they were regular consumers of drugs.
If released on bail, Khan might tamper with evidence as he is from an influential family, the ASG said.
WhatsApp chats between Aryan Khan and co-accused Anchit Kumar were not about “football” but referred to “bulk quantities”, Singh claimed.
Khan’s lawyer Satish Maneshinde had claimed earlier that the chats were about football.
Advocate Maneshinde argued on Friday that the magistrate’s court has inherent power to decide bail applications and its role was not restricted to only remanding accused in custody.
“This court has the power to set me at liberty if it finds nothing against me,” he said.
To be kept in jail can be humiliating for the accused who enjoys a certain social status, the lawyer said, claiming that the NCB had not found any material against Khan to prove any conspiracy.
“Merely because I’m a person from affluent family, it cannot be said that I will tamper with evidence,” Maneshinde further argued.
He also said that Khan was a “23-year-old with no prior antecedents”. Advocate Taraq Sayed, representing Arbaaz Merchant, contended that the NCB had allegedly recovered only 6 gm of charas from him, and he was not connected with any of the other accused.
“As per the panchanama (crime spot report), Merchant says he was going to consume the charas and have a blast. So only consumption….What is the punishment? Maximum six months. The NDPS Act provides for amnesty clause too,” the lawyer said.
The court, after hearing the submissions, rejected the bail pleas saying only that they were not maintainable. A detailed order was expected later.
Based on a tip-off that a party was to take place on board, an NCB team raided the Goa-bound Cordelia cruise on Saturday evening and claimed to have recovered drugs.
A total of 18 persons have been arrested in the case. The court on Friday also remanded Nigerian national Chinedu Igwe, the latest person to be arrested, in the NCB’s custody till October 11.
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