Updated: October 15, 2021 7:49:29 am
Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan will remain in jail after a special court in Mumbai on Thursday reserved its order on his bail plea. Aryan Khan was arrested in connection with the seizure of banned drugs, on board a cruise ship off the Mumbai coast. The court is likely to pronounce the order on the bail pleas on October 20.
During the hearing, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) stated that Khan was a regular consumer of contraband for last few years. Citing government’s national policy on narcotics drugs, Khan’s counsel Advocate Amit Desai argued that he, as an end consumer, was a person affected by the drug abuse.
Stating that the international convention has taken a decision that all the countries should take drug trafficking and drugs abuse seriously because it is affecting society, the nation and the world, NCB’s counsel Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Anil Singh said he doesn’t agree with the argument that involvement of kids can be a reason for consideration for granting bail. “Drugs are also affecting youngsters, college students. Argument was advanced that these are young boys, they are kids. And that may be one of the considerations for granting bail. I don’t agree with this. You are our future generation. The entire country will be dependent on this generation. This is not what our freedom fighters had in mind,” he said in court.
Desai, appearing for Aryan Khan, however, referred to the national policy on Narcotic Drugs and Pyschotropic Substances, saying that the government’s policy itself speaks of being sensitive to students of schools and colleges and a different approach for peddlers. Citing a Bombay High Court order, he also said the HC had not agreed with the contention that celebrities are to be treated harshly, stating that they are equal before law.
NCB, on the other hand, said it is a case of conspiracy and not a stage of bail. “The issue of drug abuse must be taken seriously. We are looking into the chain, transaction, connection and ultimately since I’ve said investigation is at preliminary stage. We will ultimately have to find out how they are all connected with each other. Therefore, it is a case of conspiracy. This is not a stage of bail. It may be considered at a later stage,” the agency counsel said opposing the bail pleas.
Desai argued that a consumer remains at the bottom of the drug chain and is actually a person affected by drug menace. “You’re a person on the bottom of the chain, (if) you’re a consumer. You’re a person affected by the drug menace as per the government’s own national policy on Narcotic Drugs… Instead of trying to reform you, I’ll pick you up and keep you in jail for I don’t know how long. Because you, as a consumer, are alleged to be in conspiracy with a co-accused from whom commercial quantity has been seized,” Desai said, adding, “The court needs to bear in mind that by no stretch of imagination is this boy involved in international drug trafficking.”
On Wednesday, 10 days since Aryan was arrested along with his friend Arbaaz Merchant and model Munmum Dhamecha, the NCB had opposed his bail plea saying the probe so far has revealed his role in the conspiracy and illicit procurement and consumption of drugs.
The NCB in its affidavit also claimed that Aryan Khan was in touch with some persons, who appear to be a part of an international drug network for procurement of drugs. Further probe is on with regard to financial transactions done abroad, the agency said.
“During initial investigation, some international linkages pertinent to this applicant (Aryan Khan) have been unearthed which prima facie indicate towards illicit drug procurement. The investigation requires sufficient time so as to approach the foreign agency concerned,” the affidavit said.
The NCB also submitted in the affidavit that the case of each of the accused cannot be considered individually or separately, as prima facie investigation reveals that there is a close link/nexus among all the accused, including Aryan Khan, for conspiracy to commit offences.
Calling the NCB’s allegations of “illicit drug trafficking” against Aryan Khan as “inherently absurd”, his lawyer said a reformative approach is needed, as his client has suffered enough.
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, menawhile, 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”.
Desai, however, 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.
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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