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The Bombay High Court has granted bail to Aryan Khan, Arbaaz Merchantt and Munmun Dhamecha. The three were arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) following a raid onboard a luxury cruise off the coast of Mumbai and were in jail since 8 October.
The High Court stated that it will pronounce a detailed order with reasons on Friday, 29 October. Former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for Aryan in the HC, was quoted by ANI as saying that all three will hopefully be out of jail by Friday or Saturday. "They will come out of the jail after the order is released from the court. For me, it is a regular case - to win some, to lose some. I am happy that Aryan has got bail", Rohatgi said.
During Thursday’s hearing, ASG Anil Singh, who represented the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), said that Aryan isn't a 'first-time offender' and has been 'consuming drugs for the past few years'. The NCB further said that liberal approach for bail cannot be taken in NDPS cases.
On the other hand Mukul Rohatgi said that nothing was recovered from his client, yet he was being charged with 'commercial quality through conspiracy'.
'Aryan Is Not a First-Time Offender': NCB
ASG Anil Singh, appearing for the NCB, told the court that Aryan Khan is not a first-time offender. "He is a regular consumer for the past few years, and the record shows that he has been providing drugs. And there is a reference of bulk quantity and commercial quantity of drugs. He has been in contact with drug peddlers", Singh said.
Referring to the WhatsApp chats that have been recovered by the agency, Singh said they have a 65B certificate under the Evidence Act.
'Our Case is Aryan Khan Being Found in Conscious Possession of the Drug'
ASG Anil Singh reiterated his arguments about Aryan being in 'conscious possession' of drugs. "If two people are travelling together, and the first person knows the drug is with the other and it is for their consumption...Though the person may not be in actual physical possession, he may be in 'conscious possession'". Aryan, through his lawyers, had stated that no drugs were found on him.
"They are saying we haven't tested for consumption. Where is the question of testing when they haven't consumed it? They were found in possession. It is our case that Aryan Khan was found in conscious possession of the drug", Singh told the High Court. He said that Sections 28 and 29 have been applied based on the WhatsApp chat, panchnama, secret note.
When asked by the court as to what the basis was for saying that Aryan tried to deal with commercial quantities Singh replied, "The WhatsApp chat will show he made an attempt to deal with commercial quantity, that's all".
Singh also said that 'multiple drugs were found from eight people' when they were apprehended. "When I say conspiracy, I calculate drugs of all persons, then it comes to that". He added that the cumulative drug quantity was of commercial quantity.
'Aryan & Arbaaz Said They Were Going to Have a Blast'
Singh stated in his arguments that Aryan said in the panchnama that the contraband found from Arbaaz was meant for consuming during the cruise journey. "And they said they are going inside to have a 'blast'".
The ASG said that 'bail is not a rule in NDPS cases'.
'Arrest Memo Mentions Aryan Had Consumption With Commercial Quantity'
Responding to former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi's arguments that the memo did not state grounds for arrest Singh told the court, "The arrest memo mentions commercial quantity and it mentions that he had consumption with commercial quantity". Singh referred to a Supreme Court judgment that liberal approach can't be taken for bail in NDPS cases.
Reacting to Rohatgi's statement that the arrests were illegal Singh said, "Three remand orders of the magistrate have not been challenged. So now the accused cannot say the arrest is illegal".
Speaking as to why the arrest is valid, the ASG said that Aryan was found in 'conscious possession' of drugs and he was connected to drug peddlers.
'Chance of Tampering With Evidence'
Referring to witness Prabhakar Sail's affidavit, Singh said that there is a chance of tampering with evidence. The NCB had earlier alleged that Shah Rukh Khan's manager Pooja Dadlani was trying to influence the witness.
As for Munmun Dhamecha, Singh said that she threw the drug as soon as she got to know the ship will be raided.
'No Material to Allege Conspiracy': Aryan Khan's Lawyer
Aryan Khan, through Mukul Rohatgi, argued, "There was no recovery from me. Though I say I was not aware what he was carrying, but what is being put on me is commercial quality through conspiracy. So basically what five other people are carrying is put on me. But section 27A is not applied against me. There were 1300 people on the ship. No material produced by NCB to show that I knew anyone else apart from Arbaaz and Aachit".
Rohatgi added that Aachit was arrested with 2.4 gms, and dealers cannot have such a small quantity. The former Attorney General also said that there is no material to allege conspiracy.
In Wednesday’s hearing, Arbaaz’s lawyer advocate Amit Desai had claimed that their arrest was ‘illegal’ and had also argued that there is no case of a ‘conspiracy’ between the accused.
The NCB has maintained that they need custody of the accused to investigate a conspiracy or a ‘drug nexus’, adding that Aryan Khan’s WhatsApp chats indicated towards a ‘bulk quantity’ of drugs. The agency also alleged 'witness tampering' arguing that those are grounds to deny bail.
Munmun Dhamecha’s counsel Ali Kashiff called the case against her ‘bogus’. Aryan Khan’s lawyer advocate Mukul Rohatgi had argued that his client can’t be charged with ‘conscious possession’ either.
Aryan Khan, Munmun Dhamecha, and Arbaaz Merchantt’s bail pleas were rejected by a special NDPS court in Mumbai after which the case moved to the High Court.
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