No evidence that Aryan conspired: Bombay HC
The Bombay high court has rubbished the claim of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) that Aryan Khan, son of actor Shah Rukh Khan, and others arrested in the cruise ship drug raid case had hatched a conspiracy to commit offences involving commercial quantities.
A single-judge bench of justice Nitin W Sambre said in his 14-page order, which became available on Saturday, that there was no evidence to suggest existence of any conspiracy.
The judge said merely because Aryan and others, including his friend Arbaaz Merchant and model Munmun Dhamecha, were travelling together on the cruise by itself cannot be termed as foundation for a conspiracy, as contemplated under Section 29 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985.
Justice Sambre on October 29 granted bail to the trio, arrested by the NCB on October 3. Acting on a specific tip-off, a team of NCB officials, headed by the agency’s Mumbai zonal director Sameer Wankhede, on October 2 searched certain passengers slated to take a holiday cruise to Goa from the International Cruise Terminal at Green Gate in Mumbai and their rooms booked on the vessel.
During searches, the agency claimed to have seized multiple drugs, including 13 grams of cocaine, five grams of mephedrone, 21 grams of charas, and 22 pills of MDMA (Ecstasy) and ₹1.33 lakh in cash from the cruise vessel.
The NCB team intercepted 14 persons and after hours of interrogation placed Aryan, 23, Arbaaz, 26, and Dhamecha, 28, under arrest in the afternoon of October 3. Subsequently, the agency arrested 17 more persons in connection with the raid.
The trio moved the high court after their bail pleas were rejected by the special NDPS court. Opposing their bail, the NCB claimed that the accused were part of a larger conspiracy. The agency relied on Aryan’s WhatsApp chats to claim that he was in touch with some foreign drug supplier and the chats referred to “hard drugs” and “bulk quantities”.
Justice Sambre, however, found nothing incriminating in the WhatsApp chats.
“After having gone through the WhatsApp chats extracted from Applicant/Accused no. 1’s phone (Aryan’s phone), nothing objectionable could be noticed to suggest that Applicant nos. 1 & 2 (Arbaaz) or all three applicants (Aryan, Arbaaz and Munmun) along with other accused persons in agreement had meeting of minds and had hatched conspiracy,” said the judge.
“There is hardly any positive evidence on record to convince this Court that all the accused persons with common intention agreed to commit unlawful acts,” said the court. “Rather the investigation carried out till this date suggests that Applicant/Accused nos. 1 & 2 were travelling independent of Applicant/Accused no. 3 and there was no meeting of minds on the aforesaid issue.”
The court also refused to accept the NCB’s contention that both Aryan and Arbaaz had in their statements to the agency officials admitted that they were going to consume the six grams of charas, purportedly found on Arbaaz on the cruise ship and that itself amounted to an offence under the NDPS Act.
In this regard, justice Sambre said in terms of the law laid down by the Supreme Court in Tofan Singh’s case, statements recorded by the NCB under Section 67 of the NDPS Act cannot be taken into consideration as evidence and can at the most be used for the purpose of the agency’s investigation.