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TOP STORIESShah Rukh Khan 'teary-eyed' as Aryan, 2 others get bail after 25...

Shah Rukh Khan ‘teary-eyed’ as Aryan, 2 others get bail after 25 days

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Thursday granted bail to 23-year-old Aryan Khan, son of actor Shah Rukh Khan, his friend Arbaaz Merchant and Munmun Dhamecha, a model from Madhya Pradesh, in the case of alleged seizure of drugs from a cruise liner on October 2. All of them have spent 25 days in custody.

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Shah Rukh Khan (55) had tears of joy when he heard the news of his son’s liberty being secured, said senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi.

Rohatgi also said that Shah Rukh even made notes to assist the legal team.

The detailed order of the high court’s single-judge bench of Justice Nitin Sambre, with conditions of bail and the amount for surety, would be out on Friday. This means the three will spend another night in jail.

Additional solicitor general Anil Singh, who appeared for the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), argued for over an hour where he opposed the bail pleas, saying, “Aryan Khan is a regular consumer of drugs. There is evidence to prove that he has been providing drugs.” Singh said, “It was a party. My learned friend is saying why we have arrested on October 2 on Gandhi Jayanti… The arrest was not invalid. The order of remand was never challenged on grounds of illegal arrest, so far. Not even one of the three remand orders of the magistrate was challenged, now belatedly they cannot say arrest is illegal.”

At the hearing of the bail plea of the trio, senior counsel Amit Desai, appearing as lead counsel for Merchant, along with advocate Taraq Sayed, had on Wednesday termed the very arrests of the three as “illegal” as no notice under section 41A of the CrPC was issued to first seek an explanation since alleged recovery of charas was small and attracted less than a year’s punishment. Singh said tampering can’t be ruled out as “the affidavit by awitness named a person”. He did not name the person himself, though he was referring to Prabhakar Sail’s affidavit in which he has alleged a Rs 8-crore payoff to an NCB official and mentioned Pooja Dadlani, Shah Rukh Khan’s manager.

The NCB stressed again that Aryan Khan and Merchant were together and Khan was in “conscious possession”, and that he was connected with peddlers and the entire case is one which cannot be dissected, and it is of commercial quantity. When the judge asked on what basis the agency had found Khan dealing in “commercial quantity”, the NCB referred to his WhatsApp chats. “The grounds of arrest were shown within four hours of arrest. Four hours cannot be called a delay. Besides, conspiracy is difficult to prove. It is only the conspirators who know how they have conspired. We have WhatsApp chats which we will place on the record.”

Mukul Rohatgi, brought in from London for the HC hearing, then started his rejoinder to argue why NCB arguments ought not to be accepted. He argued for about 15 minutes and after mid-submission, the judge said he had heard enough. He tossed the three applications towards his staff and said, “All three applications are allowed.” It was around 4.45pm. The courtroom was packed, with other lawyers too. The suddenness of the pronouncement took many by surprise.

Khan’s advocate Satish Maneshinde then sought permission to submit cash bail, which the court refused, and said it has to be a surety. “I could have also given the order tomorrow. But I gave it today,” Justice Sambre said. He said the detailed order assigning reasons would come later. Khan is currently in judicial custody and lodged at Arthur Road prison. The legal team will now try to complete the formalities for his release by Friday itself or Saturday, once the operative part is out, depending on the time the order copy is out.

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