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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Cruise drug raid: WhatsApp group discussion only on personal consumption of contraband, says court

The court had last week granted bail to Mohak Jaiswal, one of the 20 accused arrested in the case last month. While no contraband was recovered from Jaiswal, the NCB had alleged that he had provided drugs to a co-accused and he was a supplier.

Written by Sadaf Modak | Mumbai |
Updated: November 19, 2021 5:26:01 am
Nupur Satija at NCB office in Mumbai. (Express Photo by Ganesh Shirsekar)

IN ITS detailed order granting bail to an alleged supplier in the cruise ship drug raid case, a special court said that while the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) had claimed that a WhatsApp group was formed three weeks before the trip where discussions on contraband were done, they are only regarding personal consumption.

The court had last week granted bail to Mohak Jaiswal, one of the 20 accused arrested in the case last month. While no contraband was recovered from Jaiswal, the NCB had alleged that he had provided drugs to a co-accused and he was a supplier.

The NCB during its arguments in the court also said that a WhatsApp group named “Cruisers” was formed by some of the accused including Jaiswal and two other accused, Nupur Satija and Gomit Chopra, who were granted bail. The group was made three weeks before the cruise on October 2, the NCB claimed, and submitted chats for the perusal of the court. Special Judge V V Patil said there were chats but they were regarding consumption and personal use.

“Though there are WhatsApp chats in between applicant and co-accused regarding the contraband as alleged by the respondent, it can be seen that the WhatsApp chats are in respect of personal consumption and use of contraband only. There are no WhatsApp chats which will show that there was discussion regarding sell, purchase or distribution or for any other purpose. Therefore, it cannot be said merely on the basis of certain WhatsApp chats that the applicant was acting as a supplier of contraband to the co-accused. At most, it can be said that he facilitated the procurement of contraband for the personal consumption of co-accused,” the court said.


The NCB had claimed that the intermediate quantity of drugs allegedly found from Satija were provided by Jaiswal and he had a nexus with another accused, Abdul Qadir Shaikh, from whom commercial quantities of drugs were allegedly seized. The NCB claimed that there were chats about procurement of drugs by Jaiswal and statements of Satija and Chopra regarding monetary transactions between the accused.

Lawyer Lakshmi Raman, representing Jaiswal, submitted that apart from statements of co-accused recorded by NCB officers which are inadmissible as evidence, there is nothing to show that he was involved in supply of drugs and had a nexus with Shaikh. The court agreed with the contention stating that apart from the statement, there must be other cogent evidence. “But in case at hand, barring statement of the accused, there is no prima facie evidence on record to show that the applicant was the supplier of the contraband,” the court said. It said that section 27A of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act related to financing of illicit drug trafficking is not applicable on Jaiswal.

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