By Quaid Najmi
Mumbai, Oct 4 (IANS) Spelling a setback, a Mumbai Magistrate Court on Monday extended the NCB custody of Aryan Khan – son of Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan and producer Gauri Khan till October 7, though no drugs were found from him during the rave party bust aboard a luxury cruise ship on Saturday (October 2).
At a hearing on Monday, the Additional Chief Metropolitan Court R.M. Nerlikar also sent the two co-accused Munmun Dhamecha and Arbaaz Merchant to the custody of Narcotics Control Bureau till October 7.
After several hours of heated arguments between the NCB lawyers and the advocates of the three accused, the court rejected the latter’s plea for bail and sent them to the agency’s custody for another 3 days.
In the order, ACMM Nerlikar noted that the accused (Aryan Khan) had accompanied the co-accused (Merchant) from whom the contraband drugs were recovered.
Seeking extended custody for the accused trio till October 11, the Additional Solicitor-General Anil Singh argued that links found on Aryan Khan’s WhatsApp chats point to an international racket.
Besides the 8 nabbed from the swoop on the cruiser, Singh said that one more person has been arrested by the NCB from Juhu and recovered ‘commercial quantity’ of drugs from him, and the custody of the accused trio was necessary to unearth their nexus.
Making a strong plea for bail, Khan’s lawyer Satish Maneshinde said that he was invited by the party organisers, he did not pay for the party, was allotted the best suite on the ship, no drugs were found on him, but a small quantity of 6-gm Charas was recovered from his friend Merchant.
Merchant’s lawyer Taraq K. Sayed pointed out that the NCB remand application was absolutely silent on the quantity of drugs recovered from each accused.
At this, when the ACMM asked the agency, the NCB replied that small quantities of 6 gm and 5 gm respectively were recovered from Merchant and Dhamecha, besides 5 gm MDMA and 10 gm Cocaine found from another accused Vikrant Chhoker, but did not mention Aryan Khan’s name here.
Singh contended that though commercial quantity of drugs may not be found, the accused trio’s custody was required for a few days more to find out the links, who is the sources, how it was financed.
The NCB added that Aryan Khan’s phone was being investigated to ascertain his involvement in the consumption or possession of drugs, and Maneshinde cited past judgements to prove that commercial quantity of drugs found on someone else cannot be used to incriminate another accused, while WhatsApp chats can’t be used to frame the accused.
The trio was produced before the court after their one-day remand granted on Sunday ended on Monday.
Khan, along with 8 others were apprehended by the NCB raids on Cordelia Cruise ship where the alleged rave party took place on October 2 evening, and on Sunday arrested them, sparking a major sensation across the country.
After the operation, the NCB said it had recovered 13 gm Cocaine, 21 gm Charas, 5 gm Mephedrone, and 22 MDMA Ecstasy pills besides Rs 133,000 cash.
Besides Khan, Merchant, Dhamecha and Chhoker, the NCB nabbed others like Nupur Sarika, Ismeet Singh, Mohak Jaswal and Gomit Chopra.
The Spokesperson of Congress Atul Londhe and Shiv Sena’s Kishore Tiwari have slammed the NCB action as a diversionary tactic intended to shift attention from the huge quantity of drugs allegedly smuggled through the Mundra Port in Gujarat which is operated by the Adani Group.
Last month, the DRI had raided the port and found two containers with around 3,000 kg of drugs worth Rs 21,000 crore from there, and the Opposition parties have demanded a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the incident.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org)