The allegation by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) that Aryan Khan, son of Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan, was involved in illicit trafficking of drugs in the cruise ship drug case, is inherently absurd, Khan's counsel Amit Desai told a Mumbai sessions court on Wednesday.
Desai, who was seeking bail for Khan, said that Khan was not even in the cruise ship and there was no recovery of any banned substance from him.
"We see 'illicit trafficking' in this reply (filed by NCB) throughout. Illicit trafficking is a term of law, it is not a casual term. NCB, which knows the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS Act) inside out, should know what is illicit trafficking. This boy has been charged with illicit trafficking. In SC terms, it is 'inherently absurd'. There is no recovery against him, and they are saying there is recovery from Dhamecha and Gomit etc. Nothing from this boy, he was not even on the cruise and they say illicit trafficking," Desai argued.
Desai pointed out that Khan was not arrested for the offence of illicit trafficking under Section 27A of the NDPS Act.
"The Sections were mentioned in the arrest memo when I was placed under arrest. I was only arrested for Sections 27, 20(b), 28, 29, 8(c) of NDPS Act. Whatever milords will read about illicit trafficking in the reply, please bear in mind that Khan has not been arrested for 27A," Desai submitted.
The hearing before special judge VV Patil remained inconclusive and will resume tomorrow at 11 am.
Khan's counsel Desai and lawyers for other accused completed their arguments.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Anil Singh with Special Public Prosecutor Advait Sethna and Advocate Shreeram Shirsat, for the NCB, was making his arguments when the judge chose to rise for the day.
Desai in his arguments on Wednesday, emphasised that there was no recovery of any contraband from Khan.
"The remand order states what quantity was recovered. When it came to Khan, none was recovered from him. From (Arbaaz) Merchant, only 6 gms of charas was recovered. From Dhamecha, I don't know," said Desai.
Desai also explained how Khan came to be detained by NCB when he was on his way to the cruise ship along with Merchant from whom recovery was apparently made.
He said that while nothing was recovered from Khan, there were many arrests made but that does not give the NCB the right to bring in unconnected persons like Khan and keep other persons in custody.
"The 13 gms of cocaine are not from Khan and neither are the ecstasy pills, mephedrone. Nothing is from him. He did not have cash. He did not have plans to consume or sell drugs.....They are catching hold of many people which is a good job considering there are many offences in Mumbai, but they cannot bring in unconnected persons and keep others in custody" said Desai.
Desai also pointed out that the claims of international trafficking and conspiracy in NCB's reply is not attributed to any of the accused specifically.
"NCB is putting allegations of international drug trafficking and they even have foreign nationals. But this 'they' use for conspiracy section... NCB has mentioned many accused in the reply, but there are so many accused. Whom are they referring to? This is an extremely well drafted reply! The NCB reply is saying 'they' have connection and close nexus...but 'they' is who? Khan and Merchant?" demanded Desai.
He also highlighted how the Magistrate had turned down NCB prayer for further custody of Khan and had remanded him to judicial custody.
"Extension of remand was not given and hence judicial custody was given. This is important for bail. The magistrate put him in judicial custody stating that he has been summoned and investigated and hence police custody not required," Desai said.
ASG Anil Singh said that Khan cannot escape liability on the ground that no recovery was made from him.
He said that there was clear evidence that Khan and Merchant were in touch with drug peddlers.
"In a case of conspiracy, it is not like the day he was arrested, we knew it was conspiracy. We added that in the third remand. There are 20 accused and out of them there are peddlers and there is evidence of Khan and Merchant talking to them," argued Singh.
There are chats which mention about commercial or bulk quantities and then there are talks with a foreign national with reference to hard drugs, he added.
Regarding Khan's argument that the contraband was recovered from Arbaaz Merchant and not Khan, Singh said,
"Merchant went to Khan’s residence in the same car and they were at terminal where they were caught. The contraband with Arbaaz was for their consumption and both knew about it. Khan also knew that Merchant had it."
Regarding the charge of conspiracy, Singh said that it is not necessary that commercial or intermediate quantity should be recovered from all the accused.
Commercial quantity was found with them one of them. Aachit and Shivraj were drug peddlers, Singh contended.
"In a case of conspiracy, it is not necessary that with all the accused, commercial quantity is found or intermediate quantity is found. The reason I am pointing this out is because in a case of conspiracy, it is not necessary that with all the accused, commercial quantity is found or intermediary quantity is found," he said.
Khan was arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on October 2, 2021 after the NCB raided a cruise enroute to Goa from Mumbai.
Khan was charged with offences under Section 8(c), 20(b), 27, 28, 29 and 35 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.
He had been remanded to NCB custody till October 4 which was extended till October 7, 2021.
Thereafter, he was remanded to judicial custody after which Khan immediately moved for bail, including an application for interim bail.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate RM Nerlikar had rejected the bail application, holding that the application was not maintainable as only special court of sessions is entitled to hear the bail plea.
In light of the order, Khan moved the special court under the NDPS Act seeking bail.
Read a timeline of the events here.
Read more about NCB's reply here.