The major reasons why the Special
Investigation Team headed by Sanjay Singh
of the NCB dropped the charges against Aryan Khan
Aryan Khan (Photo: Getty Images)
Aryan Khan was detained on October 2, 2021, when he was about to board the Goa-bound Cordelia cruise ship along with long-time friend Arbaaz Merchant and a few acquaintances. He was arrested the next day by the Narcotics Control Bureau’s (NCB) Mumbai unit, then helmed by zonal director Sameer Wankhede, on charges of possession and consumption of drugs under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of 1985. Punishment for the offences is rigorous imprisonment for anything between six months and 20 years. Here are the major reasons why the Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by Sanjay Singh of the NCB dropped the charges against him:
POSSESSION OF DRUGS
- While Wankhede’s team had not found any drugs in Aryan’s possession, it initially charged him on the basis that Arbaaz, who was to share his room on the cruise, was allegedly found carrying 6 gms of charas in his socks. In his statement, Arbaaz claimed that the charas was for his personal use, and that Aryan had advised him against carrying drugs to the cruise saying, “NCB guys are active.” That Aryan did not possess drugs when he was apprehended is one of the major reasons why the charges against him had to be dropped.
- Wankhede tried to link all the drugs recovered during the search so that the total quantity would be sufficient to be deemed ‘commercial’, attracting severe punishment under the NDPS and suggesting the existence of an organised gang that included Aryan. But the SIT found no links among the various groups caught in possession of drugs on that day.
COVER STORY | Lessons from the Aryan Khan case
CONSUMPTION OF DRUGS
- Wankhede’s team tried to use WhatsApp chats recovered from Aryan’s mobile phone to show that he was a regular consumer of drugs. But most of the chats allegedly suggesting that he was purchasing cannabis date back to when he was in California, US, where it is legal to do so.
- There were some conversations in India, but the NCB’s Mumbai unit couldn’t come up with any corroborative evidence. Unless backed by such evidence, WhatsApp chats are not admissible in court.
- Wankhede had not followed the laid down procedure while examining Aryan’s mobile phone records, further weakening the case.
- The NCB’s Mumbai team failed to get Aryan’s medical examination done on the day he was apprehended to check for consumption of drugs. The SIT ruled that the evidence mounted was not beyond reasonable doubt.
“There was no evidence available to file a complaint against Aryan Khan. The case was judicially weak”
– SANJAY SINGH, Deputy Director General (Operations), NCB
PURCHASE AND SALE OF DRUGS
- The NCB’s Mumbai unit latched on to Aryan’s WhatsApp chat with his acquaintance Achit Kumar, who owed him Rs 80,000. In the conversation, Aryan asks for part of the debt to be returned in kind, which was presumed to mean charas. But Achit had so far repaid him only in cash and there is no proof that he ever supplied drugs to Aryan.
- The other WhatsApp chats allegedly referring to drugs in India, have no legal value unless backed by corroborative evidence, which the NCB couldn’t get.
- The SIT also ruled out any possibility of Aryan having links with organised drugs gangs and international cartels.