MUMBAI: Observing that police custody cannot be granted on “vague grounds,” the Esplanade court on Thursday rejected a plea by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) for continuing its custody of Aryan Khan, 23, son of filmstar Shah Rukh Khan, his friend Arbaaz Merchant, 26, and six others. The court remanded them in judicial custody on Thursday. The order is significant as it means that the bail applications filed by the two and others can and will be heard.

The court said since jail authorities would not accept an accused after 7pm without Covid reports, their judicial custody be under custody of NCB zonal director Sameer Wankhede.

The court also said it would hear bail pleas on Friday after additional solicitor general Anil Singh, appearing for NCB, said he would argue against their maintainability before the magistrate and file a proper written reply. Khan’s counsel Satish Maneshinde made a bid for interim bail too.

“No doubt it is the duty of NCB to investigate, but simply remanding accused to police custody would be violating fundamental right of accused under the Constitution,” said additional chief metropolitan magistrate R M Nerlikar in his order at around 7 pm, after a lengthy hearing.

Wankhede had led a team of NCB officers for a raid last Saturday at the International Terminal at Mumbai Port Trust, from where a cruise liner was to depart for Goa. The team intercepted Khan and others, found no drugs on Khan, but claim to have found 6 grams of charas on Merchant and 5 grams on co-accused Munmun Dhamecha’s cabin floor, along with several other recoveries from others. Merchant’s counsel Taraq Sayed said neither his client nor Khan had any connections with the other accused.

The NCB sought further custody of Khan and the others, saying the case was one of “criminal conspiracy”.

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