In a chargesheet filed on Friday against 14 suspects in the court of special judge for NDPS cases, Greater Mumbai, two days before its 60-day extension to file the report was to end, NCB didn’t press charges against Aryan and five other accused .
Apart from lack of evidence, the clean chit comes in the backdrop of the SIT’s investigations, which have raised serious questions about his arrest. SIT’s findings, which confirmed sources were part of the chargesheet, suggest that Khan may have been falsely implicated.
In its internal report, the SIT said: “It appeared that the investigating officer was somehow motivated to implicate Aryan Khan in the drug case.”
During analysis of voluntary statements of Aryan and Arbaaz Merchant, the SIT found that in none of his statements had Merchant claimed that the six-gram charas recovered from him was meant for consumption by Aryan. Aryan also never accepted in his statements from him that the recovered charas was to be consumed by him. These findings are part of NCB’s chargesheet.
“In fact, Arbaaz Merchant, in his voluntary statement dated October 6, 2021, had stated that he was warned by Aryan not to carry any Narcotic Drug on to the cruise. Though the mobile phone of Aryan was not formally seized, none of the chats recovered from his phone connects him to the present case,” a source said. In detention, NCB opened Aryan’s phone through his face ID.
“There was no recovery of drugs from Aryan Khan. No concrete evidence which could prove his role or his conspiracy with Arbaaz Merchant or any other accused in the case beyond reasonable doubt, surfaced during the investigation carried out so far. Hence, no chargesheet has been filed against him,” the source added.
NCB chief SN Pradhan said: “There should be physical corroboration of WhatsApp chats. Courts have clarified that a WhatsApp chat in itself has no value. You can talk about anything on WhatsApp but if not corroborated with physical evidence, it’s not complete evidence.”
According to the NCB chief, the “principle of preponderance and probability” was not applicable to the NDPS Act. “There should be beyond reasonable doubt, we did not find such evidence,” he added.
Asked if there was any international conspiracy, the NCB chief replied in the negative and said there were irregularities in the initial investigation that was conducted by then zonal director Sameer Wankhede and his team.
In a statement to the press, the NCB said, “Based on an input from NCB Mumbai on October 2, 2021, intercepted Vikrant, Ishmeet, Arbaaz, Aryan and Gomit at International Port Terminal, and Nupur, Mohak and Munmun at the Cordelia cruise . All the accused persons were found in possession of narcotics except Aryan and Mohak.”
“Initially, the case was investigated by NCB Mumbai. Later an SIT from NCB (New Delhi), headed by Sanjay Kumar Singh, DDG (Ops), was constituted to investigate the case, which was taken over by the SIT on 6 November 2021. SIT carried out its investigation in an objective manner. The touchstone of the principle of proof beyond reasonable doubt has been applied.”
“Based on the investigation carried out by SIT, a complaint against 14 persons under various sections of the NDPS Act is being filed. Complaint against the rest six persons is not being filed due to lack of sufficient evidence.”
Earlier, the NCB had claimed to have busted a high-profile “drug party” on a Cordelia cruiseliner between Mumbai to Goa on October 2 last year. Sameer Wankhede, who was then the NCB zonal director and his crew boarded the ship as guests after getting a “tip-off” about the alleged drug party.
A small quantity of cocaine, Mephedrone, charas, hydroponic weed, MDMA, and Rs 1.33 lakh cash were seized. The NCB apprehended eight passengers including Aryan and a total of 20 people were arrested during investigations. Based on the investigations, a prosecutor told the court sessions that Aryan and Arbaaz were traveling together with a “common intent”, adding that Aryan procured drugs from Arbaaz.
Khan finally got bail after nearly four weeks on October 30 after being twice denied bail by the courts.