No custody on vague grounds, says court; Aryan bail hearing today
A Mumbai court hearing the drugs-on-cruise case involving mega-star Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan has said custody of the accused cannot be granted on ‘vague grounds.’ The court, on Thursday, rejected the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB)’s plea seeking custody of Aryan Khan and said adequate time had been given. The court sent the accused to judicial custody and posted the bail hearing for 11 am, Friday.
The NCB made a strong plea for an extension of custody of Aryan Khan, 23, and the other accused, saying they need to be confronted with another man arrested in the case to unearth the “chain of conspiracy.”
Aryan Khan and two other accused, Munmun Dhamecha and Arbaaz Merchant, were arrested by the NCB on October 3 following a raid on the Goa-bound cruise ship off the Mumbai coast.
They were first remanded in one-day NCB custody, which was later extended till October 7 by the court. The other five were arrested on October 4 and remanded in NCB custody till October 7. They all were produced before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate R.M. Nerlikar at the end of their earlier remand.
The drug law enforcement agency sought an extension of their custody till October 11. The NCB told the court they arrested one Acchit Kumar based on statements given by Aryan Khan and Merchant. The custody of Khan and others was required to confront them with Kumar for unearthing the “chain of conspiracy,” it said.
Judge, after hearing the arguments put forth by advocates of all the accused, said the gist of the NCB plea was that it required the custody of the accused to confront them with Kumar.
Kumar was arrested on Wednesday evening. He was produced before the court on Thursday and remanded in NCB custody till October 9.
Considering the time of Kumar’s arrest when both Aryan and Kumar were in NCB custody, and till his production before the court, the court said nothing was investigated.
Further, it was rightly argued by defence advocates that the investigating agency was required to give details of the probe conducted so far, but the same was not reflected in their remand extension application, it said.
The court mentioned that custody cannot be granted without a “cogent reason.”
The probe agency’s remand application does not disclose sufficient grounds to grant (further) custody of the accused. “The ground mentioned are vague, and custody cannot be granted based on vague grounds,” the judge noted.
“Sufficient time was given to the probe agency (for custodial interrogation of the accused),” the court said and rejected its plea for a remand extension.
In a related development, Sameer Wankhede, Zonal Director (NCB), requested the court to keep the accused at the probe agency’s office in the city, as the jail does not admit prisoners without a COVID-19 test report. The court granted the request as no objection was raised by the defence. The court also allowed the families of the accused to visit them at the agency’s offices.
Based on a tip-off that a party was scheduled on the ship, an NCB team led by Wankhede raided the Goa-bound Cordelia cruise ship on Saturday evening and allegedly recovered drugs.