Aryan Khan was denied bail today by a special court in Mumbai that ruled that WhatsApp chats showed his involvement in illegal drug activities and his “nexus with suppliers and peddlers”.
The 23-year-old son of superstar Shah Rukh Khan – “Accused No. 1” in the case – has been in Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail since October 8 and will remain there for now. His lawyers have approached the Bombay High Court for bail.
The court said Aryan Khan’s WhatsApp chats indicated “he is dealing in illicit drug activities of narcotic substances on a regular basis”, so it could not be said he is not likely to commit similar offences while on bail.
“This is not the first time when Aryan Khan is involved in illicit drug activities. There is ample evidence in the form of Whatsapp chats of Aryan Khan with foreign national and unknown persons dealing in drugs. Incriminating material…show the nexus of Aryan Khan with suppliers and peddlers,” said the court, adding that he appeared to be part of a “larger network” even though no drugs were found on him.
The court order also said the Whatsapp chats of Aryan Khan “with unknown persons” referred to ‘bulk quantity’ and ‘hard drug’.
“There is reference of hard drugs and bulk quantity in the Whatsapp chats which cannot be meant for consumption, with unknown persons who are suspected to be part of international drug racket,” said the order.
Aryan Khan, his friend Arbaaz Merchant and model Munmun Dhamecha, and five others were arrested after disguised officers of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) raided a rave party on a cruise ship off Mumbai on October 2. Since then, the number of arrests has gone up to 20.
Aryan Khan’s lawyers Satish Maneshinde and Amit Desai argued in court that no drugs were found on him. The anti-drugs agency, however, claimed strong evidence from the star son’s WhatsApp chats that he had links with an international cartel and had sourced drugs for years.
The court said drugs were found on Aryan Khan’s friend Arbaaz, and that amounted to “conscious possession”.
“…though no contraband is found in possession of accused no. 1, 6 grams of Charas was found in possession of accused no. 2 of which accused no. 1 was having knowledge (of) and thus it can be said that it was in conscious possession of both the accused,” said the court.
The saga of Aryan Khan’s arrest and repeated bail hearings – deferred once due to court holidays – is seen by many in a shell-shocked film industry as inexplicable and a sign of celebrities being targeted.
Shah Rukh Khan and Gauri Khan, who spoke to their jailed son on video call last Friday, have not made any public statement till now.
Actors like Salman Khan and Hrithik Roshan, and filmmakers including Farah Khan and Prakash Jha have come out in support of the Khans.
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.
The BJP, on the other hand, alleges that Maharashtra’s ruling Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) have stakes in the so-called Bollywood-drugs mafia.
The anti-drugs agency has previously questioned many stars on drugs allegations linked to the investigations into the shocking death of Sushant Singh Rajput last year.