Updated: October 28, 2021 7:24:10 am
The bail hearing of Aryan Khan, son of actor Shah Rukh Khan, along with co-accused Arbaaz Merchant and Munmun Dhamecha, in the case related to alleged drugs bust on a cruise ship will continue before Bombay High Court on Thursday when the Narcotics Control Bureau presents its response to arguments from defence lawyers.
On Wednesday, Senior Advocate Amit Desai, representing Merchant, argued before the single-judge bench of Justice Nitin W Sambre that the NCB’s arrests in the case were “illegal” because the agency failed to follow procedure under section 41A of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), which mandates the investigating officer to issue notice of appearance prior to arrest.
Desai also contended that WhatsApp chats were not admissible in court, according to previous High Court judgments and provisions of the Indian Evidence Act. Merchant should be granted bail as he was booked with alleged possession of narcotics in small quantity, and “not in commercial quantity”, and his medical test was not conducted, the lawyer argued.
Desai further referred to Tuesday’s Special Court order granting bail to two other men in the case, Avin Sahu and Manish Rajgariya — the first from among 20 of those arrested to be granted bail.
“Offence of conspiracy was levelled against them (two who got bail) and the reply of NCB was identical to that of Arbaaz and Aryan. They were also accused of having contraband in their possession. Even though the Special Court judgment is not binding on this court (High Court), we are not on parity but liberty. They were two independent people. There was no connection between all these people arrested,” Desai said.
Aryan, Merchant and Dhamecha have been in custody since October 2, when they were detained ahead of an alleged rave party on a cruise ship. The three had approached the High Court after the Special Court under the NDPS Act rejected their bail pleas last Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Senior Advocate and former attorney general Mukul Rohatgi, appearing on behalf of Aryan, had called his arrest “arbitrary”.
On Wednesday, Rohatgi said the NCB’s remand application did not give “true and correct facts” and his client had rights under section 50 of CrPC and Article 22 of the Constitution of being informed of arrest and right of bail, which was not followed.
Representing Merchant, Desai argued: “Why a need for arrest when only the offence of possession under NDPS Act was levelled?”
Desai said: “Only thing they are using to keep us in custody is WhatsApp chats, which were from before the incident took place. There are no WhatsApp chats in any manner whatsoever supporting the conspiracy theory. They (devices) were seized but there is no panchnama. Based on this, there has been speculation of drug trafficking, it is absurd.”
Advocate Ali Kaashif Khan Deshmukh, representing Dhamecha, argued that there was no material against her and that she had no connection with the other accused. full report on
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