- Aryan Khan's request for bail will be heard today by Bombay High Court
- Mukul Rohatgi will represent Aryan Khan in court
- Aryan Khan is in jail since October 8 in the drugs-on-cruise case
Aryan Khan's request for bail will be heard today by the Bombay High Court. The 23-year-old son of superstar Shah Rukh Khan, in jail since October 8 in the drugs-on-cruise case, has been denied bail twice.
Mukul Rohatgi, former Attorney General of India, will represent Aryan Khan in court.
The Narcotics Control Bureau or the NCB has filed an affidavit opposing Aryan Khan's bail plea, saying it is ill-conceived. The agency names Pooja Dadlani, Shah Rukh Khan's manager, of trying to influence witnesses in the case.
"It so appears that the said lady (Pooja Dadlani) appears to have influenced such witness when the investigation is ongoing, such interference at the stage of investigation is a malafide attempt to ensure that the same is derailed and the quest of truth is obstructed," submitted the NCB.
The bail plea also comes up as Sameer Wankhede, the anti-drugs agency officer leading the investigation, has been hit with a Rs 8 crore payoff claim by a witness in the case.
The anti-drugs agency has backed the officer, citing an "impeccable service record". Regarding the payoff claim - by Prabhakar Sail, a witness in the case - the NCB said Mr Sail had turned 'hostile'.
Last week, a special court in Mumbai said Aryan Khan's WhatsApp chats indicated "he is dealing in illicit drug activities of narcotic substances on a regular basis", so it could not be said he is not likely to commit similar offences while on bail.
The court had also said that the material placed on record points to a "nexus" between Aryan Khan and suppliers and peddlers.
Though no drugs were found on Aryan Khan, the court said he knew about six grams of charas hidden in his friend Arbaaz Merchant's shoe, and this amounted to "conscious possession".
Lawyers Satish Maneshinde and Amit Desai, appearing for Aryan Khan, argued in court that the NCB was "misinterpreting" his WhatsApp chats to implicate him.
Aryan Khan also questioned the special court's contention, while refusing him bail, that since he is an influential person he may tamper with evidence in the case if released from custody.
"There is no presumption in law that merely because a person is influential, there is likelihood of him tampering with the evidence," the appeal said.
Aryan Khan, his friend Arbaaz Merchant and model Munmun Dhamecha, and five others were arrested after officers of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) raided a rave party on a cruise ship off Mumbai on October 2. Since then, the number of arrests has gone up to 20.
On October 21, Shah Rukh Khan visited Mumbai's Arthur Road Jail to meet with his son. It was their first physical meeting. Earlier, Aryan Khan had spoken to his parents on video call.
The drugs case has also ignited a political row with the Maharashtra government accusing the NCB of going after specific individuals on orders from the Centre.
NCP leader Nawab Malik, who has been spearheading criticism of the anti-drugs agency and its inquiries into the Aryan Khan case, has alleged forgery linked to Sameer Wankhede's birth document.
Mr Wankhede hit back saying it was an "unnecessary invasion" of his family's privacy, adding it was "intended to malign me, my family, my father, and my late mother".