Cover Story: Aaryan Khan Has No Easy Way Out

On the night of October 2, after receiving a tip, a team from the Bombay unit of the Bureau of Narcotics Control (NCB) boarded the Cordelia Cruises ship Empress disguised as passengers. An event company in Delhi organized a two-day music tour on this ship. Among those on board the ship was Aryan, the 23-year-old son of superstar Shah Rukh Khan.

NCB officials led by Regional Director Sameer Wankhede launched a search of the ship and later claimed to have recovered 13 grams of cocaine, 5 grams of MD, 21 grams of charas, 22 tablets of MDMA (Extacy) and Rs 1.33 lakh in cash. The following day, the NCB arrested Aryan Khan, his friend Arbaaz Merchant and 18 others for allegedly “consuming, selling and buying” prohibited material.

Khan has been charged under sections 8 (c), 20 (b), 27, 28, 29, and 35 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) of 1985. These sections are not bond and, if requested Pleads guilty, Khan could face up to 20 years in prison. No intoxicant from his possession was found, but six grams of charas were allegedly found hidden in the merchant’s shoes.

The NCB claims that during the investigation, Khan and the merchant had confessed to being in possession of the consumer item. The agency also alleged that Khan’s WhatsApp chats showed that he was in contact with foreign nationals and unidentified persons suspected of being part of an international drug trafficking ring.

During the case’s first hearing on October 4, the NCB had requested police custody of Khan until October 11, but the court had ordered custody until October 7. When this period ended, he was sent to judicial custody for 14 days. The day after the order came in, Khan approached court to obtain both provisional and regular bail.

The trial court that heard the case rejected the request for bail on the grounds that it was outside the jurisdiction of that court. Three days later, a special NDPS court heard the bail request and ordered the NCB to file a response within three days. After hearing arguments from both parties on October 13, the court adjourned the hearing to the following day.

On October 14, the NDPS special court judge reserved his order. The next hearing in the case was scheduled for October 20, as the courts were closed due to weekends and other holidays. That day, Khan’s bail statement was rejected.

Judge VV Patil, in his 18-page warrant, said there was prima facie evidence against Khan because he knew his friend was in possession of drugs. The judge also said that his WhatsApp chats showed that he had links with narcotics suppliers and sellers.

Several legal experts criticized Khan’s confession and the rejection of his bail request on the basis of the WhatsApp chat, as both are unacceptable in court. No drugs were found on him either. On October 26, the NDPS court granted bail to two of the 20 arrested. Finally, on October 28, the Bombay High Court granted Aryan bail.

However, bail under the NDPS Act has always been the subject of much scrutiny. Vikram Singh, Former Director General of Uttar Pradesh Police, says: “There is no uniformity in bail provisions. Last year, comedian Bharti and her husband were released on bail two days after they were released. marijuana recovered.On the other hand, actress Rhea Chakraborty was in jail for a long time even though no ‘drugs’ were recovered.

The bail request was rejected by the NDPS court days after the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment recommended a more humane approach to avoid sending drug users and addicts to jail. In its revision of the NDPS Act, the ministry recommended decriminalizing the possession of these narcotics in small quantities for personal use.

Meanwhile, the political drama began after former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti claimed that Khan was being targeted by law enforcement for being Muslim. The Maharashtra minister and Nationalist Congress Party leader Nawab Malik alleged that the NCB’s foray into Cruise was “bogus” and that the BJP was using central agencies to “smear Maharashtra, the state government and Bollywood.” He also questioned the presence of two independent witnesses during the raid, one of whom, Kiran Gosavi, is allegedly associated with the BJP.

Gosavi’s selfie with Khan at NCB’s office went viral. They disappeared shortly after Khan’s arrest and a surveillance notice against him. Later, on October 24, Gosavi’s bodyguard and another independent witness, Prabhakar Sail, said in an affidavit that Gosavi had demanded 25 million rupees on Wankhede’s behalf for Khan’s release.

The following day, the NCB issued a statement saying that Wankhede has denied all the allegations. He also wrote a letter to the Mumbai Police Commissioner asking him to “ensure that no legal action is taken against him” by unknown persons with “unlawful motives”.

On October 25, NCB Deputy Director General Dnyaneshwar Singh said that an investigation had been launched against Wankhede. On the same day, Gosavi appeared in Lucknow and offered to surrender, but the Uttar Pradesh police said they did not have the authority to do so. He was arrested on October 28.

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