Indian Staff Correspondent Sambhav Sharma and Indian Chief Correspondent Neelabh Bist offer their take on the legal issues surrounding the recent high-profile arrest and detention of Bollywood celebrity heir Aryan Khan on charges of illegal drugs. They file this for JURIST of New Delhi.
India had its own Bollywood drama last month when Aryan Khan (“Aryan”), son of Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan (“Shah Rukh”), was arrested along with several other people on the boat. cruising “Cordelia” while cruising off the coast. from Bombay. The arrest was made by the Narcotics Control Bureau (BNC) in connection with an alleged drug seizure. Aryan and the other defendants were charged with possession, consumption and sale of illegal substances.
Thus began a series of events that unfolded over a period of 27 days and drew many Indians to the case.
Although no contraband was found on Aryan’s person, the BCN raised bailable charges against him and two others saying they found evidence in the form of WhatsApp chats showing their regular link with hawkers and suppliers, pointing to international drug trafficking.
The Additional Solicitor General argued in court that a prominent celebrity such as Aryan is seen as a role model in Indian society and that possession and use of illegal substances portrays a deplorable situation.
While Aryan’s earlier petitions were dismissed in lower courts, he ultimately obtained redress from the Bombay High Court. A chain of prominent lawyers, including former Indian Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, have been mobilized to defend the celebrity heir in this roller coaster case.
The Special Court for Narcotic Drugs and Psychotic Substances (NDPS) granted conditional bail to Aryan and the other eight people on October 30. These conditions included the provision of a deposit of ??100,000 (approximately US $ 1,350), weekly visits to the NCB office in Mumbai, handing over each of the individual’s passports to the NDPS court and signing a pledge not to leave India without court permission .
The whole Aryan case arouses curiosity in the minds of readers as many questions remain unanswered. The puzzling aspect of this case is that Aryan was given a bond under NDPS after 27 days; however, according to the arrest note, no prohibited substances were recovered and no medical tests were performed on him to confirm or disprove his possession or consumption of such substances.
As many lawyers have observed, Aryan was still charged under the concept of cumulative intent, that is, on the grounds that he was surrounded by people with banned substances. An extension of the bond is available to anyone charged under the NDPS Act if certain conditions are met. First, there must be “reasonable grounds” to believe that the accused is not guilty of an offense under the NDPS. Second, the accused must not be likely to commit such an offense while on bail.
In the current situation, the co-accused accompanying the Aryan had a small amount of a prohibited substance with him, so the whole case was built on an intention to commit a crime in the future. It is relevant to note that the absence of an appropriate data protection bill in the country and the consequent use (or abuse) of WhatsApp chats as evidence creates an ambiguous interpretation of the laws.
The “sensationalization” of this case has further contributed to the complexity of the interpretation of the laws regarding release on bail under the NDPS Act. Without an appropriate procedural mechanism, NDPS is swept like a football between agents performing at different levels.
Although no momentous achievement has given rise to such an occasion, October 30 marked the return of the “Aryan prince” to the home of his father Shah Rukh. While it was a joyous moment for millions of Shah Rukh fans, it was a great disappointment for some who viewed Aryan’s arrest as a symbol of the plight of drug-influenced Indian youth.
This case had all the elements of a good Bollywood drama: King Khan’s son caught at the gates of a rave party, his detention making the news for nearly a month, the country’s former attorney general arrived by plane from London, a bail hearing spilled over for three days, and finally redemption for Aryan. The drama kept Bollywood fans on the edge of their seats until the very last hour of Aryan’s release.
Besides all the limelight and glamor that the Aryan Khan affair possessed, it gave the public a chilling awareness of how easily a citizen could stay behind bars for a significant period of time. This is remarkable because 70% of prisoners in India are on trial. The case is also a good example of how easily a privacy breach can be committed by authorities under the guise of national security by examining our private discussions on forums like WhatsApp. The Supreme Court of India has ruled heavily on this point and has categorically observed, while tackling a recent privacy issue in the country, that the state will not get a general melee under the aegis. national security. One can only hope that the Aryan Khan saga will feature much more than just an episode of Bollywood gossip.