In its detailed order the granting of a bond to three, including Aryan Khan, son of Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan, Arbaaz Merchant and model Munmun Dhamecha, the Bombay High Court said there was “almost no positive evidence” to show a conspiracy between the defendants, as claimed by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).
The single chamber of Judge Nitin Sambre granted bail to the three men on October 28 after their arrest on October 2 following a cruise raid by the BCN.
The detailed 14-page order was made available on Saturday afternoon.
Although no drugs were recovered from Aryan and small amounts of drugs were reportedly recovered from Merchant and Dhamecha, the BCN said all of the defendants, including others from whom commercial quantities of drugs were taken. found, were “connected with a conspiracy” to commit offenses. under the Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) and, therefore, the recovery of drugs in the case should be considered cumulatively.
The court said there was nothing to infer that the three plots to commit an offense or that there was any agreement with the other defendants arrested in the case.
“There is virtually no positive evidence on the record to convince this Court that all defendants with common intent have agreed to commit unlawful acts. The investigation carried out up to that date suggests rather that the applicant / accused nos. 1 and 2 (Aryans and merchants) were traveling independently of applicant / accused no. 3 (Dhamecha) and there was no consensus on the aforementioned issue, ”the court said.
She also said that it is difficult to infer at this point that the plaintiffs are involved in a commercial quantity violation.
While the NCB had argued that a high standard of proof is not required at the bail stage of the proceedings to establish the conspiracy case, the HC stated that it is necessary to be sensitive to the fact that ‘There must be basic material present in the form of evidence to support the conspiracy case.
“Merely because the plaintiffs were traveling on a cruise, this in itself cannot be characterized as a satisfactory basis for invoking the provisions of Article 29 (conspiracy) against the plaintiffs,” the court said.
Regarding the BCN’s allegation of the WhatsApp conversations allegedly retrieved from Aryan’s phone, the court said “nothing reprehensible” was found to prove the conspiracy.
“After going through WhatsApp chats retrieved from applicant / accused no. phone of 1, nothing objectionable could be noticed to suggest that the requester nos. 1 & 2 or all three plaintiffs and other defendants agree have common views and have hatched a plot to commit the offense in question, ”the court said.
Regarding the NCB’s allegation that the accused confessed to having consumed drugs, the order stated that the assertion that the three men had accepted their involvement could not be considered as it amounted to a confession which is not valid. not admissible in evidence.
The court said that even if an allegation is investigated, the maximum penalty for consumption does not exceed one year.
“The applicants have already been imprisoned for almost 25 days. The applicants were not even subjected to a medical examination to determine whether, at the material time, they had used drugs, ”the court declared.
While the NCB had also relied on the confession of the accused, the court said that they could also only be taken into account for the purposes of the investigation.
“… it should be made clear here that such confessions can only be taken into account by the investigating agency for investigative purposes and cannot be used as a tool to infer that the applicants have committed a breach of the NDPS law as it was blamed on them, ”he said on the basis of the Supreme Court ruling – Tofan Singh v State of Tamil Nadu.
Following the HC order granting bail to the three people, so far 12 others have also been released on bail by the special court. The BCN has arrested a total of 20 defendants so far.