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Sunday, December 05, 2021

‘Conscious possession’ as Aryan Khan knew friend had drugs: What judge said while rejecting bail plea

Arbaaz Merchant and Aryan were apprehended together at the international cruise terminal from where they were to board the cruise on October 2.

Written by Sadaf Modak | Mumbai |
Updated: October 21, 2021 7:22:09 am
Aryan Khan and others accused in connection with the drugs case brought to a court in Mumbai. (Express file photo by Ganesh Shirsekar)

In its detailed order rejecting the bail application of Aryan Khan, son of Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan, a special court has said that since his friend who was traveling with him was found with contraband and he had its knowledge, it amounted to ‘conscious possession’.

Arbaaz Merchant and Aryan were apprehended together at the international cruise terminal from where they were to board the cruise on October 2.

While no drugs were found from Aryan, six grams of charas was allegedly seized from Merchant. The court also relied on their voluntary statements where it is alleged that they had said that they were to consume the contraband together on the cruise.

“In the present case, although no possession is found from accused number 1 (Aryan), six grams of charas was found from accused number 2 (Merchant) of which Aryan had the knowledge and thus it can be said that it was in conscious possession of both the accused,” the court said.

The court also relied on WhatsApp chats submitted to it. “During course of arguments WhatsApp chats were shown to the court. Perusal of Whatsapp chats reveals that there are chats of accused number 1 (Aryan) about drugs with unknown persons. There is also reference to bulk quantity and hard drug in the chats. There is prima facie material showing that accused number 1 was in contact with persons dealing in prohibited narcotic substances alleged by the prosecution,” the court said.

While it was argued by Merchant’s lawyer that there was no panchanama to show that the phones were seized and hence these chats cannot be relied on, the court said that a certificate under the Indian Evidence Act was not necessary at the stage of investigation. It also agreed with the NCB’s contention that Merchant and Aryan had surrendered their phones voluntarily.

It said that these chats showed a nexus between the accused with suppliers and peddlers. The court also said that while Aryan had no previous antecedents, his chats show that he is indulging in ‘illicit drug activities’.

“WhatsApp chats prima facie reveals that accused number 1 (Aryan) is dealing in illicit drug activities of narcotic substances on regular basis. Therefore it cannot be said that accused no 1 is not likely to commit similar offence while on bail,” special judge V V Patil said.

The court also said that there was prima facie evidence of conspiracy and it would be dealt with in-depth during the stage of the trial.

While the defence lawyers had said that there was nothing to connect Aryan with the others arrested in the case, the court said all accused are ‘connected in the same thread’ and prima facie material to indicate that accused are part of ‘larger network’. It said that at this stage accused’s role cannot be isolated from one another. It also said that there was a chance of tampering with evidence.

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