The Bombay High Court has ruled that there was “no prima facie evidence” against Aryan Khan and co-accused Munmun Dhamecha and Arbaaz Merchant for charges pertaining to ‘conspiracy’ and ‘common intent’ in the case lodged against after the cruise ship raids.
Delivering the detailed 14-page order, Justice Nitin Sambre said that considering the material brought on record by the NCB, the court has not found that prima facie, there was no positive evidence against the accused trio.
It may be recalled that Khan, Dhamecha and Merchant were granted conditional bail by the high court on October 28 vide a speaking order and the detailed order was made available only today.
Justice Sambre further said that the NCB claim on the common intention to commit an offence under the NDPS Act, (accused) found to be in possession of commercial quantity of drugs and hatching conspiracy is “liable to be rejected”.
The court said that merely because the accused trio was travelling on the cruise cannot be grounds to invoke the offence under Section 29 (criminal conspiracy) against them.
“This court is required to be sensitive to the fact that there has to be presence of basic material in the form of evidence so as to substantiate the case of conspiracy against the applicants (accused),” Justice Sambre noted.
He further said that no drugs were found on Khan, while the quantity recovered from Dhamecha and Merchant were ‘small’ under the NDPS Act
Under such circumstances, in order to invoke the offence of conspiracy against the accused, there has to be positive evidence about an agreement to do an unlawful act, or to do lawful act by unlawful means, and such agreement must precede with meeting of minds, but there is no such material in this case, said the court.
Even the WhatsApp chats of Aryan Khan, or all the three accused had nothing objectionable or suggesting a conspiracy with the other accused in a meeting of minds to hatch a conspiracy and commit offences under the NDPS Act.
Justice Sambre said that the probe till date suggested that the accused trio were travelling independently and there was no ‘meeting of minds’ on the issue, as contended by the NCB.
Accordingly, since there was no offence of conspiracy, the rigours of NDPS Act Section 37 on grant of bail would not apply here, the court said, granting bail to Khan, Dhamecha and Merchant last month.