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"Cannot Restrain The Media; Identity Disclosed In Remand Application" – Judge On NCB's Plea For 'In-Camera' Hearing To Protect Identity Of One Accused

Sharmeen Hakim
5 Oct 2021 2:10 PM GMT
Cannot Restrain The Media; Identity Disclosed In Remand Application – Judge On NCBs Plea For In-Camera Hearing To Protect Identity Of One Accused
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A local court at Mumbai has remanded four accused including two alleged suppliers, and guests arrested in the cruise ship drug case in NCB's custody till October 11, after refusing the agency's request for a non-public hearing to protect the identity of one accused. NCB's counsel claimed that details of their remand had made it to the papers; moreover, he was seeking for the...

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A local court at Mumbai has remanded four accused including two alleged suppliers, and guests arrested in the cruise ship drug case in NCB's custody till October 11, after refusing the agency's request for a non-public hearing to protect the identity of one accused.

NCB's counsel claimed that details of their remand had made it to the papers; moreover, he was seeking for the remand of just one accused to be held separately.

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate RM Nirlekar observed that the agency had already disclosed the identity of the accused (Abdul Sheikh) in the remand application. The court added that all details need not be disclosed.

"I don't think it's necessary to keep it in-camera. Conduct the matter in open court…Cannot restrain them (Media), rejected," the court observed after which the hearing proceeded in open court.

Advocate Advait Sethna Sethna, appearing for NCB, continued, "I have not used the word in camera in the application. We want less exposure of his face. It is only for protection of this accused person's identity. But if your Lordship insists, I have no problem."

"How are the identities protected when the name is there in remand?", the court asked the NCB's Counsel.

The four accused who have been remanded are alleged suppliers Abdul Qadir Sheikh (30) and Shreyas Surendra Nair (23), and guests onboard the ship - Manish Rajgarya (26) and Avin Dinanath Sahu (30).

So far 12 people have been remanded to NCB's custody. Aryan Khan and 7 others were sent to NCB's custody, till October 7, yesterday.

Advocate Advait Sethna for the NCB said Shaikh was arrested with 54.3 grams of commercial quantity of Mephedrone, while Nair was arrested with two grams of charas. They have been booked under the stringent section 27A of the NDPS Act along with sections 8(c) read with 22b, 22(C), 28, 29 and 35.

He added that the agency seized small quantity of 2.4 grams of ganja from Rajgarya, and Sahu had accepted that he smoked ganja twice on the cruise. They were intercepted after the cruise returned yesterday and booked only for possession and consumption of small quantities respectively.

"This case is like an Agatha Christie or Sherlock Holmes novel, every day there is a new twist and turn,"  Sethna said.

The advocate further submitted that the ship operated without a license from the Director-General of Shipping and people had paid thousands for the Mumbai to Goa Cruise. He prayed for custody till October 11.

Advocate Apoorv Srivastava for Sheikh had not opposed the in-camera application, however, he said, "I am just a scapegoat. I don't know why Mohak Jaswal has named me. I was never arrested when the raid was conducted."

Following submissions, the court remanded them to custody, "I am of the view detailed investigation is necessary to go to the root of the case…interrogation is necessary."

The Case So Far

On October 2, the NCB allegedly seized 13 grams of cocaine (intermediate quantity), 5 grams of MD (mephedrone) (intermediate quantity), 21 grams of charas (small quantity), 22 pills of MDMA (ecstasy) (intermediate quantity) and Rs 1,33,000 at International Cruise Terminal, Mumbai.

The NCB has so far booked 12 people in the case including Aryan Khan - son of actor Shahrukh Khan for offences under the NDPS Act.

Khan, who was not found in possession of contraband, is accused of consumption under sections 8(c) read with sections 20b, 27, 28, 29 and 35 under the NDPS Act.

The NCB heavily relied on Whatsapp Chats while seeking an extension of his remand yesterday. Two others arrested along with him Arbaaz Merchant and Munmun Dhamecha were found with total 11 grams of charas.

The second group of 5 passengers who hail from Delhi were produced and remanded to NCB's custody till October 7. They include Ishmeet Singh Chadha, Mohak Jaswal, Gomit Chopra and Vikrant Chhokar.

Jaswal and Chhokar are booked under section 27A for financing illicit trafficking and harbouring offenders attracting 20-years' imprisonment. The remaining three are charged with possessing intermediate quantities of drugs attracting 10-year term.

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