Cruise raid case: Whatsapp chats not proof enough that accused supplied drugs, says court
In his detailed orders on the bail pleas of five of the nine accused, the judge said that there is no evidence to prove that they were part of a conspiracy
In a detailed order granting bail to Aachit Kumar, arrested in the cruise ship drug raid case by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), a special court has stated that merely on basis of WhatsApp chats, it cannot be gathered that he was a supplier to Aryan Khan and his friend Arbaaz Merchant, reported Indian Express.
“…it is pertinent to note that though respondent (NCB) claimed that applicant (Kumar) is a supplier, respondent failed to bring on record specific evidence to show that applicant is dealing in the business of supplying the contraband. Except WhatsApp chats with accused no. 1 (Khan), there is no other evidence to show that the applicant was indulging in such activity. Merely on the basis of WhatsApp chats, it cannot be gathered that applicant used to supply contraband to accused nos. 1 & 2 (Merchant), especially when the accused no. 1, with whom there are WhatsApp chats of (the) applicant, is granted bail by Hon’ble High Court,” the court said in its order.
In his detailed orders on the bail pleas of five of the nine accused, the judge said that there is no evidence to prove that they were part of a conspiracy. Prior to this, while rejecting bails to Aryan, Merchant and Dhamecha on October 20, the special court had agreed with the NCB’s contention that the accused were linked by a “common thread”.
The NCB had arrested Kumar, allegedly with 2.6 grams of ganja, claiming that it had found WhatsApp chats from Khan’s phone. It claimed that Kumar was a ‘peddler’ and part of the ‘ganja trafficking network’ in the city.
“So far as allegations of conspiracy are concerned, accused no. 1 & 2 with whom present applicant allegedly acted in conspiracy is granted bail by Hon’ble High Court. Hence Section 29 (conspiracy) cannot be said to be applicable to the present applicant,” the court said
“…it can be gathered that the applicant’s company was only involved in conducting live entertainment shows and live music shows on the Cruise and did not have authority to either regulate entry on board or assign the rooms. It can be gathered that they had no control over the Cruise and the passengers therein. Therefore, the applicant cannot be directly said to be connected with the co-accused or with the recovery made at the instance of the co-accused. It is pertinent to note that no one from the Cordelia team and sponsors were made accused in the case,” the court said.
According to a report in the Indian Express, While opposing bail to the four linked to the event management company, the NCB had claimed that they were aware of the passengers and the nature of the ‘rave party’ that was to be allegedly held on the cruise. The four had argued that they were not linked to ticketing or entry into the cruise and were only concerned with organising a few events on the cruise. The court said that there was no evidence of section 29 (conspiracy) or 27A (financing illicit trafficking and harbouring of offenders) of the NDPS Act against them hence they were not applicable. While the accused had all raised issues of illegal detention, the court said that it was not getting into the aspect as they were otherwise also entitled for bail.