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Shahrukh khan son drug case initiated debate on legalities of Narcotics act

A Mumbai court on Monday sent Aryan Khan (23), son of Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, to the custody of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) till October 7, a day after he and seven others were arrested from a cruise ship off the coast of Mumbai while allegedly participating in a ‘rave party’.

Earlier NCB had sought his custody till October 11, arguing, “Unless we investigate the consumer how do we know who is the supplier, who is financing it?” It contended that an international cartel is apparently involved in the case.

The rigour of the NDPS Act varies greatly based on the quantity of the contraband seized. As per the arrest memo, 13 grams of cocaine, 5 grams of MD, 21 gram charas and 22 pills of MDMA have been seized.

The charges brought against Aryan Khan include purchase, possession and use of banned substances. As per the arrest memo he has been booked for contravention of Sections 8(c), 20(b), 27 read with Section 35 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act) for the sale and possession of various drugs.

Section 8(c) provides that no person shall produce, manufacture, possess, sell, purchase, transport, warehouse, use, consume, import inter-state, export inter-state, import into India, export from India or tranship any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance.

Section 20(b) lays down punishment for contravention in relation to cannabis.

It states that whoever, in contravention of any provision of this Act or any rule or order made or condition of licence granted there under, produces, manufactures, possesses, sells, purchases, transports, imports inter-state, exports inter-state or uses cannabis, shall be punishable:

(a) For small quantity – with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to [one year], or with fine which may extend to Rs 10,000 or with both;

(b) For quantity lesser than commercial quantity but greater than small quantity – with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years, and with fine which may extend to Rs 1 lakh;

(c) For commercial quantity, with rigorous imprisonment for a term not less than ten years but which may extend to twenty years and shall also be liable to fine which shall not be less than Rs 1 lakh but which may extend to Rs 2 lakh:

Section 27 provides for punishment for consumption of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance. It says that whoever consumes any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance shall be punishable:

(a) Where the narcotic drug or psychotropic substance consumed is cocaine, morphine, diacetylmorphine or any other narcotic drug or any psychotropic substance as may be specified in this behalf by the Central Government by notification in the Official Gazette, with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine which may extend to twenty thousand rupees; or with both; and

(b) Where the narcotic drug or psychotropic substance consumed is other than those specified in or under clause (a), with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees, or with both.

The punishment under Section 20 would vary greatly depending on the quantity of contraband recovered. 

According to legal experts, the quantities specified in the arrest memo could vary from small to intermediate. 

While the quantity of charas would be considered as ‘small quantity,’ that of the cocaine recovered would be considered ‘intermediate’.

Legal Experts specialised on NDPS act advocate Nishant Kumar Srivastava, said, “If the prosecution is firstly able to prove the possession from Aryan Khan, or that he has consumed or purchased or transported such narcotic drug or psychotropic substance and thereafter is able to show that the quantity was a lesser than commercial quality but more than small quantity, then only the prosecution will be able to get a conviction of the accused upto 10 years with fine of Rs 1 lakh.”

“From the available information, it seems that the prosecution has not recovered anything from the possession of the accused and the WhatsApp chat, if any, is not at all any proof for the prosecution to rely on for either the extended custody or final conviction,” he pointed out, adding, “Aryan Khan is bound to get bail once the remand is over”.

Splco Special Correspondent
News analysis wing of Splco Media a bilingual (English & Tamil) novel social media channel.

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