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Explained: Sections of NDPS Act invoked against Aryan Khan in drugs bust case

What has the NCB told the court so far about Aryan Khan’s role in the drugs case? What happens next?

Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan and seven others, booked by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), are charged with various sections of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. The NCB had claimed that the eight persons were part of an alleged drug bust on a cruise ship late on Saturday.

What are the sections invoked in the case so far?

The NCB has invoked four sections of the NDPS Act so far. These include section 8(c) of the Act. The section has wide provisions for producing, manufacturing, possessing, selling, purchasing, transporting, using, consuming, importing, exporting any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance. This section is read with three others.

Section 20 (b) relates to use of cannabis, Section 27 relates to consumption of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance and Section 35 which is a presumption of culpable mental state.

What is the maximum punishment in each?

The NCB has claimed that among the seized drug at the cruise ship are 13 grams of cocaine, 5 grams of mephedrone, 22 pills of MDMA (Ecstasy)-all categorises as “intermediate” quantity and 21 grams of charas, which falls in the category of “small” quantity as per the NDPS Act.

In its remand plea submitted before the court on Sunday evening, the NCB did not clarify from whom and where these drugs were seized. The NCB told the court that the offences against Khan and two others are bailable.

Section 8 is read with other sections based on which drugs have been recovered.

Section 20 relates to cannabis. In this case, since the seized quantity of charas which would fall under the category of cannabis is “small” as per the NDPS Act, the maximum punishment would be six months or a fine of Rs 10,000 or both.

Section 27 which is a charge for consumption has a maximum charge of one year.

Section 35 states that the accused must have a culpable mental state. This means that it is upon the accused to show that he did not have an intention, motive, knowledge to commit the offences he is charged with.

What has the NCB told the court so far about Khan’s role?

The NCB while seeking Khan’s remand did not specify whether any drugs were found in his possession or were suspected to have been consumed by him though he has been charged with sections related to consumption. The central agency said that it was investigating “suspicious transactions” constituting offences under the NDPS Act. Its prosecutor also told the court that there is prima facie material in the form of WhatsApp chats showing nexus of respondents (the three arrested on Sunday) “with peddlers and suppliers on a regular basis”.

Khan’s lawyer told the court that nothing had been found in his possession nor had he admitted to any consumption or being in contact with persons related to the drugs seizure.

What happens next?

Since the charges are bailable, Khan’s lawyers are likely to file bail on Monday. On Sunday, his lawyers argued that there was no bar under section 37 NDPS Act. This relates to a particular provision under the Act, where if the offences are non-bailable, the court is required to hear the public prosecutor and be satisfied that there are “reasonable grounds” that the accused has not committed the offences before granting bail. Since the charges do not fall under this category, the court will decide on his bail plea on the basis of the provisions under the bailable sections.

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