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Aryan Khan:- Mumbai Cruise Ship Drugs Case

Updated: Sep 13, 2022

Aryan Khan drugs case: Complete story of arrest in Mumbai cruise ship drugs case

Aryan Khan, Arbaaz Merchant and Munmun Dhamecha was arrested on October 3 in connection with the Mumbai cruise drugs case. Here's a comprehensive guide to everything that has happened since then.

Aryan Khan remains in prison after a special court in Mumbai rejected his bail application on October 20. Aryan Khan, the son of Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, was arrested in connection with a drugs case in early October. Here’s a comprehensive guide on the Aryan Khan-Mumbai cruise drugs case.






  • Case Laws relating to Bails

  • Aryan Khan, Arbaaz Merchant and Munmun Dhamecha have been granted bail by the Bombay HC in the Mumbai cruise drugs bust. A detailed order will be released tomorrow.

Aryan Khan, son of Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, is no stranger to the spotlight. Except perhaps the kind of headlines he’s been getting over the last few days. ‘Bollywood superstar SRK’s son Aryan Khan arrested in drugs case,’ screamed headlines on October 3, 2021, beginning a filmy saga that ultimately saw Aryan Khan cooling his heels at Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail.

Aryan Khan was arrested on October 3 in connection with a drugs raid conducted by the Narcotics Control Bureau. Helmed by zonal director Sameer Wankhede, the NCB’s Mumbai unit raided a cruise ship off the city coast. Aryan Khan, along with several others, was arrested and accused of consumption and ‘conspiracy’, among other charges.


WHAT ARE THE CHARGES AGAINST Aryan Khan was charged under four sections of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. These charges include:

​Aryan Khan, born on November 13, 1997, is the eldest child of Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan and interior designer Gauri Khan ​Aryan Khan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts, Cinematic Arts and Television Production from the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California in the United States. He did his schooling in the United Kingdom and Mumbai.

​1.Section 8(c) This section prohibits the production, manufacturing, possession, selling, purchase, transport, warehouse, use, consumption, inter-state import and export, import to and from India, or transship of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance, except for medical or scientific purposes.

What are Aryan Khan’s major arguments in favour of bail?

  • No drugs were recovered from him

  • Alleged WhatsApp chats are unconnected to the current case

  • Even if true, allegations pertain to ‘small quantity’ and ‘consumption’ only

  • No criminal antecedents

  • No likelihood of fleeing

2. Section 20(b) Under this section, possession, cultivation, manufacture, sale, transport, and use of cannabis are punishable offences. If the accused is in possession of a ‘small quantity’, imprisonment involves a term which may extend to six months. If the quantity is less than ‘commercial’ but greater than ‘small’, the imprisonment may extend to ten years. If the quantity involved is ‘commercial’, imprisonment shall not be less than ten years but may extend to twenty years. 3. Section 27 Under Section 27, the consumption of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance is a punishable offence. 4. Section 35 This section presumes that the accused knew what they were doing. Hence, the accused will be treated guilty unless proven innocent.

What are the NCB’s major arguments against bail?

  • Drugs recovered from Aryan’s friend Arbaaz Merchant (allegedly six grams of charas) were for both of them

  • WhatsApp chats suggest ‘international drug trafficking’

  • Aryan Khan is involved in conspiracy so the amount of drugs recovered is immaterial

  • He is a regular consumer of contraband

  • Release of any accused will hamper the investigation

Since October 3, Aryan Khan has been doing the rounds of courts in Mumbai seeking bail. As of October 25, Aryan Khan remains imprisoned at Mumbai's Arthur Road Jail after a special drugs court rejected his bail application. Aryan's lawyers have approached the Bombay High Court to seek relief. The court began hearing Aryan's bail plea on October 26.


On October 2, Aryan Khan left his home in Mumbai’s Bandra to attend a party on board Cordelia Cruises' Empress ship. A two-day ‘musical voyage’ had been organized offenses quantity that by a Delhi-based events company.

On receiving a tip-off, a team of the Narcotics Control Bureau’s Mumbai unit, led by zonal director Sameer Wankhede, boarded the ship disguised as passengers.

On board the ship, NCB officials began a search and the same night, it was reported that the NCB had seized various illegal drugs such as cocaine, charas, and MDMA from the ship and detained 7-8 people, including a Bollywood star’s son.


Aryan Khan was formally placed under arrest at around 2 pm on October 3, a day after the raid. Two others -- Munmun Dhamecha and Aryan’s friend Arbaaz Merchant -- were also arrested.

According to the arrest memo, Aryan Khan was placed under arrest for "involvement in consumption, sale and purchase" of contraband.

By then, the NCB had claimed to have seized 13 grams of cocaine, 5 grams of MD, 21 grams of charas, 22 pills of MDMA (ecstasy) and Rs 1.33 lakh in cash during the raid on Cordelia Cruises' ship.


Since the arrest of Aryan Khan, Mumbai courts have become the site of much drama in the cruise ship drugs case.

Aryan Khan’s legal team, which includes senior advocates Satish Maneshinde and Amit Desai, argued for him to be released on bail. The NCB, represented by Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, opposed the bail plea.

October 4: During one of the first hearings in the Aryan Khan case, the NCB sought an extension of the star kid’s police custody till October 11. However, the court granted NCB custody of Aryan Khan and the others only till October 7.

October 7: The NCB again sought custody of Aryan till October 11. The court refused the demand and instead sent him to 14-day judicial custody. Aryan was shifted to Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail the next day. He was being held at the NCB office until then.

October 8: Aryan Khan moved the court for both interim and regular bail. The magistrate court, which was hearing the matter, rejected the bail application on grounds of it being ‘non-maintainable in that particular court.

October 11: A special NDPS court heard the bail plea and directed the NCB to file its reply by October 13.

October 13: The court adjourned the hearing for the next day after hearing arguments from both sides.

October 14: The special NDPS court judge reserved his order on Aryan Khan’s bail application. With courts shut for the weekend and other holidays, the next hearing was scheduled for October 20, meaning that Aryan would stay in jail at least until then.

October 20: In the afternoon, the special NDPS court rejected Aryan Khan's bail application. Aryan's lawyers said that they would go to the Bombay High Court in appeal against the rejection of bail by the lower court. Aryan Khan continues to remain in prison.

October 21: Aryan Khan's lawyer Satish Maneshinde, along with his team, went to the Bombay High Court. The court said it will hear Aryan Khan's appeal on Tuesday, October 26.

October 26: The Bombay High Court began hearing Aryan Khan's bail plea. The NCB opposed the plea while former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, along with others, argued in favour of bail for Aryan Khan. The hearing will resume at 2.30 pm on Wednesday. Meanwhile, a special NDPS court granted bail to two accused in the case.

October 28:Aryan Khan, Arbaaz Merchant and Munmun Dhamecha have been granted bail by the Bombay HC in the Mumbai cruise drugs bust. A detailed order will be released tomorrow.


On October 24, the case took a new turn when independent witness Prabhakar Sail stated in a notarised affidavit that Rs 25 crore had been demanded on behalf of NCB zonal director Sameer Wankhede for the release of Aryan Khan.

Prabhakar Sail, bodyguard to another witness KP Gosavi, also alleged that he was made to sign a blank panchnama. He said that KP Gosavi was the one who had made the Rs 25 crore demand on Sameer Wankhede's behalf.

In response to these allegations, the NCB issued a press release saying that Sameer Wankhede has denied all the claims. The agency also said that Prabhakar Sail's affidavit would be forwarded to the NCB chief so further action can be taken.

Sameer Wankhede, meanwhile, wrote a letter to the Mumbai Police Commissioner requesting him to "ensure that no precipitate legal action is carried out" against him by "unknown persons" with "ulterior motives" to frame him.

On October 25, NCB deputy director general Gyaneshwar Singh said an inquiry had been initiated to probe the allegations levelled against Sameer Wankhede.

The provisions of Bail under Special Laws:

Section 37 of the NDPS Act (The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985) provides that every offence under the act is cognizable offence and further no person shall be released on bail for the offences committed under Section 19 or Section 24 or Section 27A and also for offences involving commercial quantity unless the public prosecutor is heard. The accused under this Act may be released on bail, if the court is satisfied that there is no reason to believe the accused is guilty of the offence and further he will not commit offence while on bail.

Section 43D of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 provides that every offence committed under this act is a cognizable offense. Under this section, the police can detain the accused person for investigation for a period of 90 days. Upon the application by the public prosecutor for increasing detention on the grounds that the investigation is not complete and giving all the details of the investigation the said period can be increased further up to 180 days.

Further under this section, subsection 5 provides that no person accused under this section be released on bail unless the public prosecutor has been given an opportunity of being heard on the application for such release and provided that such accused person shall not be released on bail or on his own bond if the Court, on a perusal of the case diary or the report made under section 173 of the Code is of the opinion that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the accusation against such person is prima facie true.

Section 45 of the PMLA, 2002 (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) provided that no person can be granted bail for any offence under the Act unless the public prosecutor, appointed by the government, gets a chance to oppose his bail. When the public prosecutor opposes the bail, the court has to be satisfied that the accused is not guilty of the crime and accused is not likely to commit any offence while out on bail.

Case Laws Relating to Bails

In the case of State v. Captain Jagjit Singh (1962) the Supreme Court enumerated relevant factors that belies the decision on bail such as the nature and seriousness of the offence, the character of the evidence, circumstances which are peculiar to the person accused of an offence, a reasonable possibility of the presence of the accused person not being secured at the trial, reasonable apprehension of witnesses tampering, the larger interests of the public or the State etc., which arise when a court decides on bail for a non-bailable offence.

In the case of State of Rajasthan v. Balchand (1977) the Supreme Court declared that the rule is “Bail not jail”. It further stated that denial of bail is therefore an exception, to be exercised only when there are circumstances indicating absconding from justice or thwarting the course of justice or creating other troubles in the shape of repeating offences or intimidating witnesses and the like, by the accused who seeks enlargement on bail.

The Supreme Court, in the matter of Shahzad Hasan Khan v. Ishtiaq Hasan Khan (1987), has observed that “Liberty is to be secured through the process of law, which is administered keeping in mind the interest of the accused, the near and dear of the victim who lost his life and who feel helpless and believe that there is no justice in the world as also the collective interest of the community so that the parties do not lose faith in the institution and indulge in private retribution”.

In case of Rajesh Ranjan @ Pappu Yadav v. Central Bureau of Investigation (2007), the Supreme Court held that the grant of bail depends upon factual matrix of the case and no straight-jacket formula can be laid down for grant of bail.

In the case of State of UP v. Amarmani Tripathi (2005) it was held by the Supreme Court that a vague allegation that person accused of an offence may tamper with evidence or witnesses, may not be a ground to refuse bail, if the accused person is of such character that the mere presence at large would intimidate the witnesses or if there is evidence to show that the liberty would be used to subvert the justice or tamper with the evidence then bail will be refused.

In Prasad Shrikant Purohit v. State of Maharashtra (2018) the Supreme Court has held, “While considering a bail application, detailed appreciation of the evidence is not required. But the court must find out if there is prima facie evidence in support of charges levelled. Court must also examine the nature and severity of the offence and penal consequences. The court must also consider apprehension of tampering with or threat to witnesses of the complainant”.

Refusal of bail under the section 37 of the NDPS act is the rule and the grant of the bail is the exception. The whole purpose of enacting the NDPS Act was to curtail the menace of drugs and narcotics trafficking as there is reason to believe that if the accused is released on bail then they will continue their work of trafficking drugs and narcotics substances in the society and thus create a potential threat.

However, the court can grant bail if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the accused is not guilty of the offence and he would not indulge in these types of activities when released on bail.

The term ‘reasonable grounds’ appear very ambiguous and contains discretionary characteristic. The Supreme Court explained the term reasonable ground in the case of Narcotics Control Bureau v. Dilip Pralhad Namade (2004) to mean ‘something more than just the prima facie grounds’.

The ‘reasonable belief’ contemplated in the provision requires existence of such facts and circumstances as are sufficient in themselves to justify satisfaction that the accused person is not guilty of the alleged offence and he is not likely to commit any offence while on bail.

After the TADA and POTA {Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act and Prevention of Terrorism Act} were repealed, their provisions were incorporated under the UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act). The Bail provisions under the UAPA were made liberal than those under TADA and POTA as they virtually prohibited the grant of bail to the accused.

In the case of Kartar Singh v. State of Punjab (1994), the Supreme Court has observed that such laws provided enormous power to the police, as by registering a case under these legislations, they could ensure that a person would remain in jail at least for the period of the trial.

Under the UAPA, on moving of the application of bail by the accused, the bail is not straight away denied but the public prosecutor is given notice to be heard and further the bail is denied if the court feels the allegations against the accused are prima facie true. In Jayanta Kumar Ghosh v. State of Assam (2010) the Guwahati High Court discussed what ‘prima facie true’ means. It held that the Court should determine whether the accusations were ‘inherently improbable or wholly unbelievable’. Only in such circumstances the person can be released on bail.

Apart from terrorism, economic threat to a country could be enormous and capable to shake the public confidence. In India, number of economic losses or financial scams have taken place. Scams like Satyam, Fodder, Harshad Mehta, Nirav Modi, Housing, Chit fund and many more. The economic offenders are the offender which harm the country.

In the case of Gujarat v. Mohanlal Jitamalji Porwal & Anr. (1987) pertaining to bail relating to the economic offences, the Supreme Court has observed, “the entire society is aggrieved if the economic offenders are not brought to books as they affect the entire economy.”

When a bank official commits a fraud in the bank, the customer whose account is present in the bank would not be safe and secure and thus these type of offences shake the faith of the public in institutions such as banks, financial institutions etc. Such frauds, in large number, could have been seen during the time of demonetization when the bank employees committed frauds in circulating the notes of the new denominations.

In the case of Supreme Court Legal Aid Committee representing Undertrial Prisoners v. Union of India (1994), the Supreme Court has observed, “bail under special legislations remains inconsistent and unpredictable and therefore, raises concerns regarding the violation of Article 21 of the constitution of India with regards to the rights of the accused person.” Therefore, under the special Laws proper guidelines should be made so that the bail under special laws don’t remain inconsistent and unpredictable.

In a recent judgment titled as Nikesh Tarachand Shah v. Union of India (2018), the Supreme Court has struck down the provision of Section 45 of the PMLA, which provides that no person can be granted bail for any offence under the Act unless the public prosecutor, appointed by the government, gets a chance to oppose his bail; and should the public prosecutor choose to oppose bail, the court has to be convinced that the accused was not guilty of the crime and additionally that accused was not likely to commit any offence while out on bail. This ruling struck down the clause, which made it virtually impossible to grant bail to the accused person.

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