Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan’s 23-year-old son Aryan Khan did not get bail in the drugs-on-cruise case today from a Mumbai Sessions Court that reserved the order till Wednesday, sending him back to jail.
The decision came after the Narcotics Control Bureau told the court that Aryan Khan is a regular consumer of drugs, as the bail hearing of Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s son resumed for the second day nearly two hours late since Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, representing the central agency, came in late.
Mr Singh referred to on-record statements to claim to the court that “he (Aryan Khan) used to consume it for the last few years”.
Arguing against giving Aryan Khan bail, Mr Singh also threw in dramatic appeals for good measure, telling the court “this is the land of Mahatma Gandhi… this (drug) abuse is affecting young boys”.
In response Amit Desai, arguing for Aryan Khan, said that the WhatsApp chats the agency was relying on heavily can often appear suspicious given the kind of language young people use today.
“Please bear in mind one other reality. Today’s generation have a means of communication, which is English… not the Queen’s English.. it’s sometimes what the older generation will call a torture. The way they communicate is very different,” he said.
“Conversions on chats can often be misunderstood. WhatsApp chats are supposed to be private conversations. But I am told there are no messages or conversations on the mobile about the rave party,” Mr Desai said.
“There is always a possibility that casual conversations between friends on WhatsApp may appear suspicious,” he added.
Mr Desai acknowledged the dangers of drugs, particularly on younger people, but stressed “whatever action is taken, it should be within the ambit of the law”.
“… very important to remember we fought for freedom, we fought for the Constitution, to maintain freedom of people and their rights. We can’t ignore rights and can’t take action without law,” he said.
Mr Desai said that under the NDPS there were provisions for both “severe punishment for illegal trafficking” and “reformative approach for those people who are addicted”.
“I am not saying my client is (an) addict… I am just reading that document. I am not saying anything personally but I am talking about the Supreme Court, the legislature and the government, and they have accepted that provision of punishment will be decided on basis of quantity,” he said.
The defence’s case is that Aryan Khan did not have drugs on him when he was arrested.
Mr Desai also reminded the court (this was in response to ASG Anil Sinha calling for strict action against celebrities and influencers) that the Bombay High Court hat said “… everyone is equal before the law (and) each case has to be decided in its own merit, despite the status of the accused”.
On the question of WhatsApp chats recovered from Aryan Khan’s phone, he said conversations between friends can often appear suspicious given the kind of language young people use today.
Earlier in the day ASG Anil Singh said: “Aryan Khan is not taking drugs only once… the statement that has been received shows he used to consume it for the last few years. Drugs have been found from Arbaaz Merchant (Aryan’s friend, from whom six grams of charas were seized) … Aryan was with him.”
“When the IO (investigating officer) asked if he had drugs, Arbaaz said he had drugs in his shoes… Arbaaz admitted that both (he and Aryan Khan) were going to consume it on the cruise.”
“This is not what our freedom fighters had in mind. This is the land of Mahatma Gandhi and Buddha. The investigation is at preliminary stage, this is not the stage for grant of bail,” he said.
He referred to eight previous judgments, including the Supreme Court in ‘State of Orissa v Mahimananda Mishra’, to say that in a conspiracy case “there can only be circumstantial evidence”.
“In conspiracy there cannot be direct evidence because only conspirator will know the conspiracy. So Supreme Court has said there can only be circumstantial evidence,” he said.
The ASG also told the court statements to a NCB officer under NDPS Act – referring to Aryan Khan’s statements, which the defence has claimed was forced – is “admissible until proven wrong”.
“In this case 15 to 20 people are involved and there is talk of conspiracy… if commercial quantity has also come to the fore,” he said, in reference to claims Aryan “indulged in illicit drug trafficking”.
In response to no drugs being found on Aryan Khan, he said: “If drugs were not found from you but, in the same case, if drugs in commercial quantity is found from others, action can be taken on that basis.”
“My submission is that bail cannot be granted in this case,” ASG Anil Singh had said.
In yesterday’s hearing Aryan Khan’s lawyers underlined the fact the NCB had found no drugs on their client or any evidence that suggested he was about to use banned substances.
On the NCB claim that Aryan Khan had “admitted he was about to use charas that was found on Arbaaz Merchant”, the defence said the admissions were forced.
Aryan Khan was arrested hours after the anti-drugs agency’s officers raided a Mumbai cruise ship party in disguise on October 2. Seven others, including Arbaaz Merchant, were arrested on October 3.
Aryan Khan has been in Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail since then; this morning he and five other accused were shifted from the quarantine block after their mandatory Covid tests returned negative.