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FPJ Legal: Alleged peddler, who supplied drugs to Aryan Khan and Arbaz Merchant, gets bail

10:55 PM Nov 27, 2021 | Narsi Benwal

Mumbai: The Narcotics Control Bureau’s (NCB) case against Aryan Khan and Arbaz Merchant seems to have already weakened, as a major part of the evidence has not been considered by the special NDPS court.

Last week, on November 22, the court granted bail to an alleged peddler, whom the NCB had accused of supplying drugs to Khan and Merchant. The court said that the peddler could not be considered an accused as there is no material against him, except the confessional statements of Khan and Merchant, which too have been retracted.

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Notably, while recently granting bail to Khan and Merchant, even the Bombay High Court had said that the alleged incriminating WhatsApp chats do not indicate any conspiracy.

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The bail order, which was released on Saturday, says Special judge V V Patil has granted bail to Shivraj Harijan, a Santacruz resident who was arrested in October; the court, in its order, said perusal of NCB papers reveals that Harijan is arraigned as an accused and a supplier of contraband to co-accused Khan and Merchant. “Prosecution claimed that he is a peddler, who used to supply contraband to the two men. Further, it is shown that Merchant had told NCB that the drug was supplied to him by Harijan in his confessional statement. Based on this statement, the officers recovered 62 gm of dark brown sticky substance purported to be charas,” the judge said in his order.

But the court also noted in its conclusion that the NCB had failed to bring on record any cogent evidence in that regard.

“Barring the confessional statement of Merchant, there is no prima facie evidence on record to show that Harijan was a supplier of the contraband. Therefore the contention of the prosecution cannot be accepted that he is a peddler and that he supplied contraband to Merchant,” the court held.

Judge Patil said that as far as the contention of prosecution regarding conspiracy is concerned, “the aspect of proving conspiracy which deals with depth is required to be considered only at the time of the trial. But prima facie, it needs to be shown that there is a case of conspiracy and abetment as alleged by the prosecution.”

The court said that based on the material placed on record it could not be said that prima facie there is a conspiracy and abetment as alleged by the prosecution. “Except the statement of Merchant, there is no prima facie evidence on record to show that Harijan committed the offence as alleged by the prosecution.”

Notably, the HC has also given a similar finding on conspiracy as alleged by the NCB.

Commenting on this, senior advocates Aman Hingorani and Prasad Dhakephalkar said that these are prima facie opinions of the courts and that how weak or strong the case is would be decided at the stage of the trial.

“These observations and findings are made for the limited purpose of bail, but a final finding on this would be at the time of trial. We can say that the observations indicate the case is weak,” Dhakephalkar said.

Hingorani, in turn, said, “In the very first place, there wasn’t any need to make any arrests since the evidence wasn’t sufficient, as held by the courts. But nothing can be said with finality, as of now, as the probe is still on.”

Also Read: FPJ Legal: Judge says cops on court duty 'unarmed' despite warnings, raises security concerns

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