The Bombay high court has finally granted bail to Aryan Khan and two others accused, Arbaaz Merchant and Munmun Dhamecha, after they spent 25 days in custody in the case of seizure of banned drugs aboard a cruise ship in Mumbai.
The drug bust triggered a series of controversies and put the central agency and its officials under the spotlight. From the grounds of Aryan’s arrest to witnesses with criminal backgrounds and public testimonies of bribes and extortion, the case was fraught with loopholes right from day one.
We take a look at the timeline right from when the saga began:
Acting on a tip-off, the NCB raids the Goa-bound Cordelia cruise ship about 80 km off the Mumbai coast and busts an alleged rave party that was being attended by several high-profile youngsters including SRK’s 23-year-old son Aryan. Initially, from the apparently 1,200-strong crowd on board the ship, the NCB detains six including Aryan Khan, his friend Arbaz Merchant and a model Munmun Dhamecha.
NCB Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede confirms Aryan Khan’s arrest in the case and charges him with sections 20(B) and 27 of the NDPS Act which relate to consumption and possession of drugs. However, the anti-drug agency’s biggest charge has been of Aryan being involved in an international drug peddling racket, a charge his legal team has torn through in court. Aryan, Merchant and Dhamecha, and the other accused were taken for a medical test.
A magistrate hears the first bail plea filed by Aryan Khan and others. The NCB requests an extension of their judicial custody till October 11.
All accused are granted judicial custody for 14 days. Aryan spends that night in NCB custody since Covid-19 norms do not allow undertrials admission in jail premises with a negative RT-PCR test report.
Aryan and Merchant are transferred to Mumbai’s Arthur Road Prison after the Covid test was found negative. Dhamecha was sent to the Byculla women’s jail
The court postpones their bail hearing for October 13.
The court reserves the verdict till October 20.
The Bench hears the arguments from the representatives of the accused.
Aryan Khan is granted bail by the Bombay High Court along with Arbaz Merchant and Munmun Dhamecha. The HC has been hearing the case regularly since Tuesday and after hearing the case from both the NCB and the accused, the court granted bail.
However, Aryan is not likely to walk out of the Arthur Road jail, where he is currently lodged under judicial custody, as the court is yet to give its operative order on the conditions imposed while granting bail.
Relief For Khan Supporters
Following the verdict, many celebrities including Sonu Sood, R Madhavan, Swara Bhaskar, Malaika Arora and others expressed happiness and relief for SRk and his family. Furthermore, Senior Advocate Majeed Memon shared that in his opinion, Aryan Khan was entitled to bail from day one. But he was made to fight a fiercely legal battle that spread over three weeks which made a young child suffer for 20 days of “undeserved jail time”.
He further said that it was a marathon of a legal fight where the NCB tried to make a “mountain out of a molehill”.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra Minister Nawab Malik took to Twitter and quipped: “Picture abhi baaki hai”. Not so ironically, a dialogue from Shah Rukh’s own film.
In another twist, KP Gosavi, the bald man whose selfie with Aryan Khan went viral over social media, was arrested today by the Pune Police. He is a private investigator and an independent witness in the Aryan Khan drugs case. Pune Police Commissioner Amitabh Gupta said GOsavi has been arrested in a cheating case filed in 2018.
The FIR was based on a complaint filed by two people named Utkarsh Tare and Adarsh Keni in 2018. The police accused Gosavi of duping both of Rs 1.65 lakh on the pretext of finding jobs for them in Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur. He allegedly gave them fake tourist visas and flight tickets.
Gupta said that the charge sheet was filed in 2019 and the new offences will be registered if new cases are found.
Meanwhile, BJP’s Manish Bhanushali was summoned for questioning by the Mumbai police.
What the hack!
In another update, on October 27, a new name found its way to the case. Manish Bhangale, an ethical hacker who wrote to the Mumbai Police Commissionerate and informed that he was approached by two men named Alok Jain and Shailesh Choudhary on October 6. They asked him to get the call records of Shah Rukh Khan and others.
The two men allegedly also showed Bhangale a WhatsApp chat backup file named Aryan Khan Chat and asked him to provide a dummy SIM card in the name of Prabhakar Sail. However, Bhangale didn’t take the job.
Wankhede Requests Protection
Embattled NCB Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede, who is facing multiple counts of bribe accusations and misconduct allegations, approached the Bombay High Court in fears that the Mumbai police may arrest him any day. He said that the state government is personally attacking him.
“I want interim protection in the form of no coercive relief,” Wankhede told Bombay high court. He further said that he is not a drug peddler but a Zonal Director. He asked the probe to be given to CBI or NIA and stop the vilification. He added that the law requires a central government officer to be protected and requires the court to step in and protect him if his rights are likely to be violated.
However, the court disposed of his plea and said that if he is to be arrested, then he will be provided notice 72 hours prior to the arrest.
This comes after Prabhakar Sail, an independent witness of the NCB in the drugs-on-cruise case said that he had overheard a conversation between KP Gosavi and Sam D’ Souza who were planning to extort Rs 25 crores to let go of Aryan Khan. While keeping Rs 18 crores for themselves, they planned to pay Rs 8 crores to Wankhede.
Twists and turns.