Updated: October 22, 2021 11:20:11 pm
The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), while opposing bail to 22-year-old Aachit Kumar, claimed that he had supplied contraband to Aryan Khan and Arbaaz Merchant.
Kumar was arrested by the NCB on October 6; the bureau claimed that his name was taken by Aryan Khan, son of Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan, in his now-retracted statement. The NCB claimed that 2.6 grams of ganja was found on him while his lawyer alleges that the panchnama drawn by the agency was fabricated.
Special public prosecutor Advait Sethna said that the NCB had not used the word peddler casually to refer to Kumar but claimed that its probe had revealed that he had indulged in “use of contraband”. Kumar’s lawyer had said on Thursday that calling him a peddler without evidence has had massive ramifications on the 22-year-old.
“He (Kumar) was involved in use of contraband which is something other than personal consumption. The burden is on him to show that it is for personal consumption, which he has not done at all. It is the case of use of 2.6 grams supplied to these two (Aryan and Merchant) whose bail has been rejected. So, there is no issue in using nomenclature ‘peddler’ to describe him,” Sethna said. Defence lawyers had pointed out that while the NCB alleged Kumar to be involved in trafficking ganja, the contraband allegedly found on Merchant was six grams of charas and therefore, they were not connected.
“He (Kumar) has been arrested on the basis of leads in investigation, which have indicated that he was the supplier of ganja/charas contraband to accused number 1 and 2 (Aryan and Merchant),” the NCB said in its reply to Kumar’s bail plea. Previously, the NCB had claimed that Kumar was part of the “ganja trafficking network”.
Sethna claimed that there was corroborative material connecting Aachit with Aryan and Merchant, whose bail pleas were rejected by the special court on Wednesday. He submitted the material to the special court for its perusal on Thursday. “It cannot be a mere coincidence that you are expressing yourself in a particular manner when contraband, bulk quantity of drugs is involved. There are certain conversations which have been brought on record, whether they can prove guilt or innocence is a matter of trial but it is corroborative material at this stage. Why should a person take anybody’s name for no rhyme or reason? There are conversations at different times. It cannot be brushed aside (as) children doing light banter,” Sethna told the court. He did not clarify on the conversations he was referring to.
While seeking bail for Kumar, his lawyer Ashwin Thool had submitted to the court on Thursday that he was illegally detained and arrested. Providing screenshots of CCTV footage from Kumar’s building, Thool had also told the court that the panchnama drawn by the NCB to claim that 2.6 grams of ganja was recovered from Kumar was fabricated. Sethna said that these arguments “were as if this was the stage of the trial”.
Without getting into the veracity of the points raised by Thool, Sethna said that this was to be considered at the stage of the trial and not during a bail hearing. He also said that issues related to illegal detention were raised at the stage of remand earlier this month before a magistrate’s court but it were rejected and no appeal was filed against it. Hence, these allegations cannot be considered, Sethna said.
Sethna also opposed bail to Odisha residents Manish Rajgariya and Avin Sahu, claiming that at this stage the roles of the accused have to be viewed as “intrinsically connected” and joined in conspiracy. Sethna said that both the men were arrested when the cruise returned from its journey on October 4 after the initial raid on October 2. While Rajgariya was alleged to have been found with 2.4 grams of ganja, Sahu is alleged to have consumed ganja twice on the cruise. “To say at this stage that one accused is on a better footing and another is not will be injustice. It is impossible to expect us to define the role of each accused specifically at this stage of investigation,” Sethna said. The court will hear the rejoinder arguments of the accused before reserving the pleas for orders.
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