A day after Bombay High Court 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 after the cruise ship raids, Congress leaders said that there should be provision for penalising agencies and officers.
Senior Congress spokesperson and noted lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, "The Bombay High Court's observations clear and judicious. Aryan Khan was needlessly kept in jail for 25 days at the whims and fancies of the NCB in gross abuse of law. The law should now take its course against the delinquent officers."
Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill said, "High Court observations of no evidence or conspiracy in Aryan Khan case yet again highlight the need to fix accountability in form of penal consequences on agencies and the prosecution for wrongful arrests, unwarranted detention and wrongful indictment."
He said the agencies cannot use law book as a flexi tool.
Delivering the detailed 14-page order, Justice Nitin Sambre of Bombay High Court 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 now.
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.