Will Aryan Khan Get Bail?

Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan was arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau for possession of cannabis.

The arrest took place following a raid by NCB of a luxury cruise ship sailing to Goa from Mumbai. Since then, the NCB has detained Aryan in Arthur Road jail for questioning and is unwilling to release him on bail. It has been more than 20 days now that Aryan is in Arthur Road jail. As of today, October 27, Aryan’s bail plea has been adjourned till tomorrow for a hearing taking his stay in jail to 23 days.

The twists and turns and the unravelling of new plots in the Aryan Khan arrest case resemble that of a Netflix series—shady characters, drug use, allegations, counter-allegations, and politicians. Sameer Wankhede, the high-profile IRS officer of NCB famous for arresting Aryan Khan as well as other celebrities like Rhea Chakraborty, is being accused of lack of integrity with charges of extortion levelled against him by Nawab Malik, an MLA from NCP. The allegation is that money to the tune of 25 crores was being sought to release Aryan Khan from NCB custody.

The NCB, on the other hand, backed Sameer Wankhede while initiating a vigilance enquiry against him after these charges were levelled against him. K P Gosavi, the man who escorted Aryan Khan to the NCB office, has been absconding ever since the day of Aryan’s arrest.

The NCB has leaked to the media new chats between Aryan Khan and Ananya Panday, daughter of yesteryear film star Chunky Panday, which paint a completely different picture from what is being told by Aryan sympathizers.

The NCB alleges that Aryan Khan has links with international drug peddlers and was involved in illicit financing of drug trafficking. It has not been able to substantiate the charges with strong evidence. With the passage of every day, the plot gets murkier and murkier.

A completely baffling twist to the tale has taken place with the surfacing of a new video in which a person named Prabhakar Sail makes allegations that there was an attempt to extort money from Shah Rukh Khan by Sameer Wankhede. He was asked to contact Shah Rukh Khan’s manager and a deal was finalized at 25 crores, of which 8 crores would go to Sameer Wankhede for releasing Aryan Khan.

These have severely damaged the central investigative agency’s credibility. The NCB pursued a similar course in the Sushant Singh suicide case where Rhea Chakraborty was arrested based on WhatsApp chats. The final result was a big fiasco, with NCB failing to provide any evidence substantiating its claims based on which Rhea Chakraborty was arrested.

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Security professionals, on the other hand, have a completely different take on the whole issue. Former police officials feel the NCB made a very hasty arrest of Aryan Khan as there was no case against him. There was no need to arrest Aryan. The criteria for arrest was simply not present.

First of all, the criteria of possession of drugs does not apply to Aryan as the NCB itself claims that no drug was found on him. Secondly, the criteria of the accused having consumed drugs also does not apply as Aryan had not consumed any drugs at the time of arrest and no medical test was done to ascertain this. Third, the criteria of trafficking or illicit financing also does not apply as the NCB simply could not produce any evidence in support of these allegations. The charge framed against Aryan is that one of his friends, namely Arbaaz Merchant, was found to possess drugs at the time of arrest. This does not qualify for Aryan to be arrested.

The NCB alleges that there were chats on his WhatsApp which suggest drug use but they cannot be used as evidence in a court of law. Moreover, these chats were dated to be in the year 2018, 2019 and 2020. This again does not create grounds for his arrest in 2021. It seems that the NCB first conceived a plot and then went about weaving a story around it to vindicate its stand.

Another disturbing aspect of this entire episode is the proxy political war going on between the Central government and the state government. The Uddhav Thakkeray government is supported by NCP and INC which are at loggerheads with the BJP government in the Center.

Both the political parties are using this case to score political brownie points over one another. This has further made the case controversial. No investigating agency goes to the press during the course of an investigation. The NCB made a serious mistake of going to the press and leaking information regarding the case right from day one.

Some analysts feel that the matter should be left to the courts to grant bail to Aryan Khan. Another set of commentariat feels that the law needs to be amended so that anybody who is not trafficking gets bail and is not left to languish in jail.

The counsel for Aryan Khan has argued in the court that there was no drug found on him and that he was arrested before getting on the cruise. Moreover, the chats which have been shown as the basis of his arrest are old chats and have nothing to do with the party on the cruise ship Cordelia. They also plead that Aryan has no past criminal record, nor has he been convicted in any previous case or sentenced.

The counsel also pleads that Aryan is being detained for merely being present with Arbaaz Merchant and that he is innocent otherwise. WhatsApp chat took place abroad and so it is not about the cruise or any conspiracy. In the US and some other parts of the world, cannabis is legal.

No evidence suggests that Aryan Khan financed illicit trafficking. No medical test was done to show consumption. The event manager was let off while Aryan Khan was arrested. Mobile phones were not seized, so there are no basis for the WhatsApp chats.

In all of this, the real issue of drug menace engulfing the country’s youth, thus putting the country’s future in jeopardy, is being completely ignored and overlooked. One-sixth of the drug produced in the world is consumed in India. Delhi is known as the cocaine capital. Today’s youngsters are consuming huge quantities of drugs, and it is another pandemic that is silently killing the country’s youth.

The government needs to amend the NDPS Act 1985 wherein the youngsters who are consumers of drugs, either regularly or recreationally, are sent to a rehabilitation center rather than prison. Moreover, the proliferation of drug use is a sinister ploy by our enemy countries to spoil the youngsters of the country and thereby darken the future of the country. The drug menace among the youth of Punjab, a state which shares its borders with Pakistan, is a good example.

A holistic approach is required to fight the drug menace rather than this kind of media trial, which ends in a whimper after the hullaballoo is over.


Edited by Anupama Roy

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