MAY 27, 2022
Mumbai: For Shah Rukh Khan’s son, Aryan Khan, Friday (May 27, 2022) brought a big relief as he was given a clean chit in the Mumbai drugs-on-cruise case by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB). NCB director-general SN Pradhan said it was a case of “underwhelming evidence” as compared to the golden principle of gathering “overwhelming evidence” against the accused. The NCB team that arrested Aryan and 19 others did a “shoddy” probe and the SIT created to re-investigate the case found “grave irregularities” in their action.
The NCB on Friday filed a nearly 6,000-page charge sheet before a Mumbai court against 14 accused in this case of 2021 even as it did not charge six, including Aryan, due to “lack of sufficient evidence.”
Here are 10 key developments from the case:
– SIT sleuths found the NCB team did many “grave irregularities” and were allegedly just trying to “implicate” Aryan in this case.
– The SIT, which was created to re-investigate the case, found “grave irregularities” in the original NCB team’s actions like not conducting a mandatory medical test of the accused, no video recording of the raids, or no corroborative evidence against WhatsApp chats.
– The NCB also said in a statement it applied “the touchstone of the principle of proof beyond reasonable doubt” while re-probing this case.
– “The SIT found there was neither an intent to act nor there was an actual act by those who have not been charged. We, however, have physical evidence in the case of the 14 accused,” Pradhan said.
– Those not named or given a clean chit in the charge sheet, filed under various sections of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS), include Aryan, Samir Sehgal, Manav Singhal, Bhaskar Arora, Gopal Ji Anand and Avin Sahu.
– The accused named in the charge sheet are Vikrant Chokkar, Mohak Jaswal, Ishmeet S Chadha, Gomit Chopra, Abdul Kadar Shaikh, Shreyas Surendra Nair, Manish Rajgarhia, Chinedu Igwe, Shivraj R Harijan, Nupur Satija, Okoro Uzeoma, Arbaaz Merchant, Mummun Dhamecha and Aachit Kumar. These 14, according to NCB officers, have been charged by-and-large under sections that deal with consumption/possession of small quantities of drugs and conspiracy under the anti-narcotics law. These offences carry a punishment of about one year, officials said.
– NCB officials said there were gaps in the probe at virtually every stage of this case as they said “similar sections” of the NDPS (Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985) were slapped against all of them while rounding them off from the cruise.
– Talking about the role of Aryan Khan, who spent 26 days in jail before getting bail in the case, NCB deputy director-general (operations) and SIT chief Sanjay Kumar Singh said the “basic premise” that his friend (Arbaaz Merchant) was carrying drugs for him has not been proven and was found to be “fallacious”. He said no evidence was found against Aryan to corroborate that he either consumed, procured or was in any conspiracy, including international linkages with regard to narcotics, and hence the charges against him do not stand legal scrutiny.
– The SIT head said that “no medical examination” was done by the NCB team after arresting him to prove if he consumed drugs. He added “no videography” was done by the NCB team, under its then Mumbai zonal director Sameer Wankhede, of the raids conducted by the agency on the night of October 2-3 last year.
– Singh said Aryan’s phone was seized but “legal procedures were not followed” while opening it, adding “Right from the start the seizure of the mobile phone was questionable.” He said the statement of the deceased witness in this case, Prabhakar Sail, was recorded by the SIT and he told them that he was “made to sign on blank papers” and he did not see the drug seizure on the cruise. Sail had made allegations that NCB officials were probably looking to extort some money from Aryan’s family in return for saving him.