INDIA. Mumbai: All the eight accused, including Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan (23), who were arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), after raiding a cruise ship off Mumbai coast, on Saturday evening, were sent to NCB custody till October 7 by Mumbai Esplanade Court, on Monday.
On Sunday, Aryan Khan, Arbaz Seth Merchant, and Munmun Dhamecha were arrested by the NCB and were sent to one-day custody. On Monday they were produced before the court, which sent them to further custody till Thursday. Besides, five others who were put under arrest on Sunday evening, were produced in the court by the NCB. The NCB sought the custody for Aryan till October 11 claiming that ‘shocking, incriminating material’ was found on his phone. Besides the drugs were seized from other accused who had them hidden in medicine boxes, shoes, and between sanitary pads.
Eventually the court observed that the investigation was of prime importance and granted NCB custody of Aryan Khan and others till October 7. The eight accused are Aryan Khan, Arbaz Seth Merchant, Munmun Dhamecha, Nupur Satija, Ishmeet Singh Chadha, Mohak Jaiswal, Gomit Chopra, and Vikrant Chhokar.
The NCB sleuths said that they seized 13 grams of cocaine, 5 grams of MD, 21 grams of charas, 22 pills of MDMA (ecstasy), and Rs 1.33 lakh in cash from the accused and the offence under sections 8(c), 20(b), 27, 28, 29 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act has been registered against them.
The NCB had earlier said that there was material in the form of WhatsApp chats against the three- Aryan Khan, Arbaz Seth Merchant, Munmun Dhamecha, allegedly ‘showing nexus with peddlers and suppliers on regular basis. The three have been booked under the NDPS Act related to charges of possession, consumption, and sale of illegal substances. Subsequently, the charges were levelled against the other five.
The Assistant Solicitor General Anil Singh appearing for NCB told the court, that the accused Aryan Khan had gone to the ship on the invitation. He was present there among people who were apprehended with the drugs. “There are chats between you and others about drugs. So, there must be a thorough investigation of all these things”. There is an investigation about the payment modes and the several codes which were used. All the accused need to be confronted. The international transactions need to be investigated. As such the agency is seeking extension of custody till October 11”.
On the other hand, Advocate Satish Maneshinde, appearing for Aryan, argued that his client, should be granted bail as the 23-year-old was “not connected” to the seizures made by NCB. “The provisions invoked are 8(c), 20(b), 27, etc. None of these is embargo for bail application under Sec 37 of NDPS. Recovery is not necessary and there are no grounds for further custody”. Maneshinde further said that Khan’s chats, downloads, pictures, nothing indicated any involvement. If there are chats which discuss drugs, those can be seen, it will not indicate any drug trafficking,” he said.
Maneshinde said that Khan was a special invitee and landed there with another friend. “The panchnama does not indicate anything seized from him except his mobile. He was arrested because he had 6 gms of charas, with which he was not connected. The NCB downloaded Aryan’s WhatsApp chats when he was abroad. In the entire period of his stay abroad, he was not involved in any trafficking, supply or distribution”.
While the eight arrested accused were sent to the NCB custody for further interrogation, NCB made the 9th arrest in connection with the drugs seizure from Juhu in northwest Mumbai on Monday. The arrested person was identified as Shreyas Nair, and a commercial quantity of drugs was seized from him.
Based on a tip-off, the NCB on October 2, raided a cruise ship the Cordelia, which was on its way to Goa, and busted an alleged drugs party. A team, led by NCB Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede, conducted the raid. There were 1,800 people on the ship but after checking. all except the eight accused, were allowed to proceed.