‘Keep me away from this’: Aryan Khan’s lawyer to HC on Nawab Malik vs Wankhede

Senior lawyer Mukul Rohatgi said there was no occasion for the NCB to arrest Aryan Khan because there was no recovery and no consumption of drugs by the 23-year-old
WhatsApp chats of Aryan Khan, son of Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan, from 2018, 2019 and 2020 are being cited by Narcotics Control Bureau, senior lawyer Mukul Rohatgi told the Bombay high court on Tuesday. (Anshuman Poyrekar/HT Photo)
WhatsApp chats of Aryan Khan, son of Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan, from 2018, 2019 and 2020 are being cited by Narcotics Control Bureau, senior lawyer Mukul Rohatgi told the Bombay high court on Tuesday. (Anshuman Poyrekar/HT Photo)
Updated on Oct 26, 2021 08:37 PM IST
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ByVinay Dalvi

MUMBAI: Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi on Tuesday argued Aryan Khan’s bail application before the Bombay high court claiming that the 23-year-old son of actor Shah Rukh Khan was arrested wrongly by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), as there was no recovery and no material to suggest consumption.

Rohatgi submitted that Aryan, who has done graduation from California and returned since Covid started, was not a customer on the cruise, he was invited as a guest by one Prateek Gaba, who knew the organisers.

There is no recovery from him and no medical examination was conducted to show that the 23-year-old had consumed drugs and therefore, there was no occasion to arrest him, said the senior advocate. “No recovery, no consumption, I submit I am wrongly arrested,” he added.

Referring to the NCB’s claim that 6gm charas said to have been recovered from Aryan’s friend Arbaaz Merchant was meant for the consumption by both of them, and therefore Aryan was also in conscious possession of the contraband material, the senior advocate said, what somebody else is having in his shoes can’t be conscious possession. “They will have to prove that I knew about it,” he stressed.

He pointed out that the statements recorded by NCB officers under section 67 of the NDPS Act are not admissible in evidence. Besides, he said, six grams is a small quantity and even if it is assumed for the sake of argument that there was conscious possession, the maximum punishment is just up to one year.

Referring to the NCB referring to WhatsApp chats involving Aryan Khan, Mukul Rohatgi said these chats relate to 2018, 2019, 2020 and were not regarding the cruise party which started on October 2.

“These WhatsApp chats have nothing to do with the incident. Those are earlier chats, when I (Aryan) was abroad and on the basis of which they are claiming that I (Aryan) was dealing with people, they suspect to be international traffickers,” said Rohatgi.

He added that Aryan is a young boy with no antecedents. Law provides that in case of consumption, one has to be taken to rehabilitation. “Approach is not to keep people in jails, the (Union) social justice ministry is talking about reforms,” he added.

The senior advocate maintained that the 23-year-old was not concerned with other accused arrested by NCB on charges of possessing intermediate quantity of drugs. “There is no meeting of minds,” he said as regards the charge of conspiracy levelled by NCB against the accused, including Aryan.

As regards the simmering controversy over the purported revelations made by Prabhakar Sail, a panch witness in the case, Rohatgi said Aryan was not concerned with the affidavit. “I have no complaint against any NCB Officer. I am not concerned with the panch witness,” said the senior advocate, urging the court to keep the 23-year-old out of the controversy.

“Kindly keep me away from me this. I don’t want to go with either the political personality or the NCB officers. They (NCB) are concentrating on Pooja (Shah Rukh Khan’s manager Pooja Dadlani) and trying to rub it on me. This unsavoury controversy between political leaders and NCB officials cannot be rubbed on me.”

Rohatgi, a former attorney general, said the NCB was claiming to have arrested one Aachit Kumar, purportedly on the basis of statements given by Aryan and Arbaaz and has seized 2.6 gms of marijuana from him. The agency, however, did not seek his custody after October 9, he added.

He pointed out that Aachit Kumar himself is a young boy and a college student. Aryan has communicated/chatted with him about online Poker. “They (NCB) are using it (to connect Aryan with drug dealing). The communications are 14 months old and are about online gaming. He maintained that these chats are irrelevant and you cannot keep somebody in jail for days together.

Immediately after Rohatgi completed his arguments, a lawyer sought to intervene, complaining about the purported preferential treatment given to Aryan Khan for hearing his bail plea.

“I am supporting the prosecution, but have an objection that privileges are given to such bunch of petition,” said advocate Subhash Jha. “This is the concern of the bar as well. People are languishing in jails, but preference is given to such petitions,” he added.

Justice Sambre responded to the contentions saying he finishes his board and then take up such matters (requiring lengthy hearings). “Everybody is given circulation and is heard in my court,” said the judge.

The court has now posted the bail applications of Arbaaz Khan and Munmun Dhamecha, also arrested in the cruise drug bust case, for hearing on Wednesday.

A team of NCB officials, headed by the agency’s Mumbai zonal director Sameer Wankhede, on October 2 searched passengers slated to take the cruise ship to Goa from the International Cruise Terminal at Green Gate in Mumbai and their rooms booked on the cruise ship.

During the search, the agency claimed to have seized multiple drugs such as 13 grams of cocaine, 5 grams of mephedrone, 21 grams of charas, 22 pills of MDMA (ecstasy), and Rs. 1.33 lakh in cash.

In all, NCB officials intercepted 14 people and after hours of interrogation placed 23-year-old Aryan, Arbaaz, 26, and Dhamecha, 28, under arrest on October 3 afternoon.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2021