In its detailed order granting bail to three, including Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan, Arbaaz Merchant and model Munmun Dhamecha, the Bombay High Court said that prima facie there is no evidence on record to infer that the trio conspired to commit offences under the Narcotics Drug and Psychotropic Substance Act.
Aryan and two others were granted bail by the single bench of Justice Nitin Sambre on 28 October after their arrest on 2 October following a raid on a cruise by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB). The 14-page detailed copy of the order was made available only Saturday, 20 November 2021.
“Having regard to the material brought on record by the Respondent (NCB) on the issue of conspiracy, this court prima facie has not noticed any positive evidence against the Applicants on the said issue. This Court is of the opinion that the claim put forth by the Respondent that Applicants should be considered to have intention to commit an offence under the NDPS Act, having found in possession of commercial quantity, in the backdrop of case of hatching conspiracy is liable to be rejected,” Live Law quotes court order as observing.
While no drugs were recovered from Aryan and allegedly, small quantities of drugs were recovered from Merchant and Dhamecha.
According to the NCB, all the accused, including others from whom commercial quantity of drugs were found, were “linked in conspiracy” to commit offences under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act and hence drug recovery in the case should be considered cumulatively.
The court rejected NCB’s argument that since Section 29 of the NDPS Act pertaining to conspiracy was applicable, rigors for bail under Section 37 of the NDPS Act would apply and the cumulative quantity recovered should be considered, legal website Live Law reported.
“Merely because applicants were travelling on the cruise, that by itself cannot be termed as satisfying foundation for invoking provisions of Section 29 (conspiracy) against the Applicants,” the court said.
The Bombay High Court also said that nothing objectionable is found in the WhatsApp chats of Aryan Khan to suggest there was conspiracy between him, Arbaaz Merchant and Munmun Dhamecha.
“After having gone through the Whats-App chats extracted from Applicant/Accused no. 1’s(Khan) phone, nothing objectionable could be noticed to suggest that Applicant nos. 1 & 2(Arbaaz Merchant) or all three applicants alongwith other Accused persons in agreement have meeting of minds and have hatched conspiracy committing the offence in question,” Justice Nitin Sambre said.
On the NCB’s claim that the accused had admitted to consumption of drugs, the order said that the contention that the three accepted their involvement cannot be considered as it amounted to confessional statements which are not admissible as evidence.
“Once the confessional statement of the Applicants/Accused cannot bind them of the offence in view of the Judgment of Supreme Court in the matter of Toofan Singh [cited supra], the claim put forth by the Respondent(NCB) that Accused persons have accepted their involvement in the crime is liable to be rejected,” read the order.