The Bombay High Court is hearing the bail plea of 23-year-old Aryan Khan, who has been denied bail twice, both by a Mumbai magistrate court and special anti-drugs court, ever since his arrest on October 3 in connection with a drugs raid on a Mumbai cruise ship party by Narcotics Control Bureau officers in disguise.
He has been in Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail since October 8 and was briefly in the custody of the NCB before that.
Aryan Khan’s High Court bail hearing comes amid the cloud of suspicion that has settled over the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) after allegations of massive lapses in the investigation, extortion and payoffs, including an alleged ₹ 8 crore payoff to NCB officer Sameer Wankhede who is leading Aryan Khan’s investigation.
Questions have also been raised about whether it is fair to keep a 23-year-old in jail on the basis of what many have described as trumped up charges that are rooted on years-old WhatsApp chats, especially when no drugs were found on Aryan Khan during the raid.
The special anti-drugs court that denied him bail last week, however, said that he knew about six grams of charas hidden in his friend Arbaaz Merchant’s shoe, and this amounted to “conscious possession”.
Lawyers Satish Maneshinde and Amit Desai, appearing for Aryan Khan, argued in court that the NCB was “misinterpreting” his WhatsApp chats to implicate him.
The drugs case has also ignited a political row with the Maharashtra government accusing the NCB of going after specific individuals on orders from the Centre.
NCP leader Nawab Malik, who has been spearheading criticism of the anti-drugs agency and its inquiries into the Aryan Khan case, has alleged forgery linked to Sameer Wankhede’s birth document.
Mr Malik has also shared a letter on social media that he received from an unnamed employee of the NCB, which accuses Sameer Wankhede of violating proper investigation rules in 26 cases.