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Raid on cruise ship: NCB says probing global link; Aryan’s lawyer calls it ‘absurd’

On Wednesday, 10 days since Aryan was arrested along with his friend Arbaaz Merchant and model Munmum Dhamecha, the special court began hearing arguments on their bail pleas.

Written by Sadaf Modak | Mumbai |
Updated: October 14, 2021 10:56:34 am
Shahrukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan being escorted by officials.(Express photo by Ganesh Shirsekar)

Calling the Narcotics Control Bureau’s (NCB) allegations of “illicit drug trafficking” against Aryan Khan, son of Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan, as “inherently absurd”, his lawyer – while arguing for bail on Wednesday – said a reformative approach is needed, as Aryan has suffered enough.

Senior lawyer Amit Desai said that the “very serious and frightening” term of “illicit drug trafficking” was being dumped on Aryan, though no drug or other material were recovered from him. The NCB opposed bail to Aryan and two others stating that though no drugs were found on him, he cannot be looked at in isolation and that it was investigating an “international drugs connection”.

The special court will continue to hear arguments on the bail pleas of Aryan and two others on Thursday.

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On Wednesday, 10 days since Aryan was arrested along with his friend Arbaaz Merchant and model Munmum Dhamecha, the special court began hearing arguments on their bail pleas.

Appearing for Aryan, Desai said NCB officers searched Aryan on the cruise and found nothing.

“As far as Aryan Khan is concerned, there may have been information that he was in possession of drugs but that was clearly wrong. Aryan had zero (drugs) and there is also no material to connect him with the others from whom the agency claims drugs were recovered,” Desai said. He added that the only connection the NCB has claimed is that a small quantity of 6 gm of charas was found on Merchant.

Desai said that the NCB has attempted to create an impression that there is an “intrinsic connection” between others arrested in the case and Aryan. “There is a very frightening and serious term which they are dumping on Aryan of ‘illicit drug trafficking’… There is nothing even remotely suggesting that this boy is involved in illicit drug trafficking.”

“They have not even charged me under Section 27(A) pertaining to it. The NCB has put everyone in the same case, including peddlers and foreigners, and is claiming illicit drug trafficking,” Desai argued on behalf of Aryan.

He said a reformative approach was needed. “Under the NDPS Act, it is a rare legislation, which has seen punishment for consumption decreasing from five-year jail term to a one-year term. Something needs to be done but this is not the way to do it by keeping youngsters in jails,” Desai said.

Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, representing NCB, said Aryan’s WhatsApp chats allegedly show a discussion on bulk quantity of hard drugs with a foreign national, which could not have been for personal consumption alone.

“We are checking with the Ministry of External Affairs to find out if we can locate the person to carry out further investigation,” Singh told the court. He added that the fact that no drugs were recovered from Aryan was “inconsequential”, as he is charged with conspiracy and past chats denote that he was consuming drugs over the last few years.

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