Bombay HC granted bail to Aryan Khan

News Desk: Aryan Khan has been granted bail after three weeks in jail, by the Bombay High Court.

The 23-year-old son of Shah Rukh Khan has been in custody since October 3, hours after raids on a cruise ship party by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).

Aryan Khan, who has been in Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail since October 8, had been denied bail twice before.

His lawyers had repeatedly pointed out that no drugs had been found on him.

The NCB, however, argued that he was part of a conspiracy and that his WhatsApp chats revealed his involvement in illicit drug dealings.

Aryan Khan’s friend Arbaaz Merchant, and model Munmum Dhamecha, were also granted bail.

Aryan Khan’s arrest and denial of bail had sparked a debate over whether it was justified, given there was no evidence of consumption or recovery of drugs in his case.

Aryan Khan’s father Shah Rukh Khan is one of India’s biggest and most-loved movie stars.

Scores of fans gathered outside the Khans’ Mumbai home, “Mannat”, for days, to show their support. In the film industry, the support was more muted, with a few like Salman Khan, Farah Khan, and Hrithik Roshan showing their solidarity with SRK.

Aryan Khan’s defence team included former Attorney General of India, Mukul Rohatgi, who argued his case before the Bombay High Court.

Mr Rohatgi said his arrest was a direct infringement of his constitutional guarantees and that he was never given any reason for his custody.

He also told the court that the case against him was built entirely on two-year-old WhatsApp chats that were “irrelevant” and had nothing to do with the cruise.

“These are young boys. They can be sent to rehab and they need not undergo trial. It had come in some newspaper that the social ministry was mentioning about reform. If you possess and consume a small quantity and are willing to go to rehab, you are not liable for prosecution” Mr Rohatgi said in court.

The special anti-drugs court that denied him bail last week said he knew about charas hidden in his friend Arbaaz Merchant’s shoe, and this amounted to “conscious possession”.

Mr Rohatgi questioned the court’s view, calling it far-fetched. “I have no control over what is found in Arbaaz’s shoe. There is no question of conscious possession. Arbaaz is not my servant, he is not in my control”.

Today, the anti-drugs agency asserted that Aryan Khan is a regular consumer of drugs, and his WhatsApp chats point at the procuring of “hard drugs” in commercial quantity. It also said bail in such cases is “an exception, not a rule”, as the Supreme Court called drugs offences “worse than culpable homicide”.

“Accused number 1 (Aryan Khan) is not a first-time consumer” the anti-drugs agency said on Day 3 of arguments in the bail plea hearing that started on Tuesday.

“He is a regular consumer since the last few years and he has been procuring drugs. There is a reference of procuring drugs in commercial quantity and the drugs are hard drugs. He has been in contact with peddlers” said Anil Singh, the Additional Solicitor General, said on behalf of the NCB.

When the judge asked on what basis the agency had found him dealing in a “commercial quantity”, the NCB referred to his WhatsApp chats.

“WhatsApp chat I am relying on will show he had made an attempt to deal with commercial quantity. Not only that, when they were apprehended on the ship, multiple drugs were found with all eight. It cannot be a coincidence. If you see the quantity and nature of drugs it cannot be coincidence” Mr Singh said.