A special court in Mumbai has granted 60 days extension to the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) to file a charge sheet in the drugs-on-cruise case, in which Aryan Khan, son of Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, is an accused.
The probe agency had on Monday filed an application before Special Judge V V Patil, seeking a 90-day extension to file a charge sheet in the case since the investigation in the high-profile case was still on.
However, the judge, after hearing arguments of both the prosecution and defence lawyers, gave the probe agency another 60 days to file a charge sheet in the case.
The NCB, through a special public prosecutor, had argued that there were "compelling reasons" to seek the extension. Aryan Khan was named an accused in the case along with 19 others by the NCB last year.
The 24-year-old was arrested by the NCB on October 3 last year, following a raid on a cruise ship off the coast of Mumbai. The accused persons were booked under relevant sections of the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act for alleged possession, consumption, sale/purchase of banned drugs, conspiracy and abetment, among others.
The probe agency has claimed that the chemical examination reports of all the 17 samples were received on March 12, which proved that the entire contraband recovered during the raid was narcotics/psychotropic drugs.
The central probe agency stated that some of the accused are highly influential persons and have incriminating chats with foreign nationals, who are also located outside India. Examination of such chats is in progress as foreign nationals are involved, it said.
Due to the severe COVID-19 pandemic situation in the country from November 2021 to February 2022, the response has been delayed from the foreign agencies, the plea said.
Seeking time to file a charge-sheet, the NCB in its plea claimed that the investigation was almost complete with respect to six accused as their role is intertwined and interconnected.
The examination and recording of voluntary statements of K P Gosavi, the main panch witness, during the two recoveries made on October 2, 2021, is not complete as he is under judicial custody in other cases, it said.
Further, the NCB said that the second panch witness, Prabhakar Sail, has turned hostile and his purported affidavit in this regard is still pending before the Court. Thus in such a situation, examining Gosavi becomes necessary and pivotal to unearth the true and correct facts of this case.
Of the 20 arrested accused in the case, only two, Abdul Kadar and Chinedu Igwe, are currently in judicial custody and the rest are out on bail.
Opposing the probe agency's plea, Kadar's Advocate Kushal Mor submitted that the probe agency has filed the application only to keep him behind the bars. Further, he argued that there is no "justifiable reason" to seek the extension.
Appearing for Igwe, Advocate Ayaz Khan submitted that they were "handicapped" because of non supply of report submitted to the Court by the prosecution. "My right to express is affected," he added.
As per the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the drug law enforcement agency was supposed to file the charge-sheet in the October 2021 case within 180 days of the arrest of the accused. If the charge-sheet is not filed within the stipulated period than the accused can seek default bail as per the provisions of CrPC.
In case a prosecuting agency requires further time, the CrPC allows it to seek a maximum extension of another 90 days to file such a document.
With PTI inputs