MUMBAI: The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) busted a rave party on board, a cruise ship off the coast of Mumbai. A team of NCB officials seized various illegal drugs such as Cocaine, Hashish, and MDMA (ecstasy) during the raid on Cordelia Cruise's Empress ship. As most of you heard right, Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan is among the 8 people questioned by the NCB over the drug matter. The raid that took place busted a big event on the Empress ship which was inaugurated just a few weeks ago.
According to sources, the accused were booked under the relevant sections of the NDPS Act and were produced before a local court on Sunday and later sent to NCB custody. All the accused individuals have been arrested under Section 8C, 20B, 27 read with 35 of the NDPS Act, later detained for interrogation.
After the investigation, the central agency confirmed that Aryan Khan was booked in connection with the rave party case. They also recovered 13 gm cocaine, 21 gm charas, 22 pills of MDMA, 5 gm MD — which fall in the category of “small” and “intermediate” quantities. The recovery also included Rs. 1.33 lakh in cash.
Why did NCB raid the Cruise ship?
During the questioning of some drug peddlers, NCB officials came to know that some of them are taking the cruise to Goa and will be carrying drugs with them. Taking immediate steps based on this information, around 20 NCB officials booked tickets and boarded the cruise, disguised as passengers.
According to the information from the investigation, the passengers involved in the case had special pockets sewn to their clothes to allegedly evade security checks and smuggle the drug aboard. In fact, one of them hid the drugs in the heel of his shoe, a source said.
They waited until those on board allegedly started using narcotics and hence, they caught them red-handed. The captain of the ship was then ordered to take the cruise back to the international cruise terminal at Ballard Pier in south Mumbai. Those held were taken to the NCB office nearby.
An FIR was registered and NCB officials conducted blood tests of the accused people.
What NCB revealed about Khan after interrogation?
Aryan Khan was quizzed by the NCB officials after he was arrested. He continuously cried during the interrogation, said sources.
NCB officials revealed that during the questioning, they found that Aryan Khan had been consuming drugs for almost 4 years. They further said that Aryan Khan was on drugs even during his stays in the UK, Dubai, and other countries.
Are ships licensed to hold events and rave parties?
Every cruise ship is required to get a license for its operations. The Director-General of shipping, Amitabh Kumar, stated that Cordelia Cruise did not have a license for conducting these parties under the Merchant Shipping Act.
Though, the operators of the ship had applied for the license, due to some deficiencies the license was not given.
When asked why the ship was being operated without a license, the CEO of Cordelia and President of Waterways Leisure Tourism Pvt Ltd, Jurgen Bailom, responded with this statement:
"By means of this statement, I wish to express that Cordelia Cruises is in no way, directly or indirectly, connected to this incident. Cordelia Cruises had chartered its ship for a private event to a Delhi-based event management company.
Cordelia Cruises is extremely mindful of providing wholesome entertainment to families who choose to travel with us. This incident is contrarian and far from the culture that Cordelia Cruises represents."
What is the NDPS Act?
The NDPS Act (1985) was enacted with an aim to comply with the guidelines related to drugs and their abuse. This anti-drug law prohibits the manufacture, production, trade, and use of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. The only exception allowed will be for medicinal and scientific purposes. Just after the act came into existence, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) was set up and became functional under the Union Home Ministry.
As prescribed under the NDPS Act, the punishment for offense depends on the number or quantity of drugs seized.
According to Section 31A of the act, the maximum punishment that is allowed under this law is the death penalty. The punishment is applicable if a person is found guilty of being directly involved with commercial quantities of a drug, though some immunities are still permitted.
On the other hand, the act allows courts to grant some advantage to an accused if they are found involved in dealing with trace amounts (small quantity) of the drug. But, this is only possible if the accused agrees to take medical treatment for de-addiction.
Small, Intermediate, and Commercial quantities of Narcotic drug
According to Section 2 of the NDPS Act, Commercial quantity refers to any quantity greater than the quantity specified by the Central Government. Offenses under commercial quantities are non-bailable. However, if the court finds that the accused is not guilty or directly indulged in the sale or purchase of narcotic drugs, bail can be granted.
Where the contravention involves commercial quantity, imprisonment shall not be less than 10 years but which can be extended to even 20 years. The accused will also be liable to a fine which may extend from Rs. 1,00,000 to Rs. 2,00,000.
Small quantity, on the other hand, refers to quantity lesser than that specified. The prescribed punishment involves strict imprisonment of 6 months or a penalty and fine which may extend to Rs. 10,000 or more.
For Intermediate Quantity, no such terminology is defined anywhere in the Act. But going by its literal meaning, it can be used to define a quantity “lesser than commercial quantity but greater than small quantity”, when it comes to stipulating the punishment for the offense.
The section brought against Aryan Khan falls under this category. Very much similar to the punishment prescribed for commercial quantity, an accused found involved with drugs with intermediate quantity is confined for 10-year imprisonment with a heavy fine.
Punishment for Offences
The NDPS Act views drug offenses very strictly and the penalties are stern. The severity of punishment and fine varies with the offense (use, trade, manufacture, etc.) In the case of most of these offenses, the penalty depends on the number of drugs involved – small, intermediate, or commercial. Small and Commercial quantities are notified for each drug.
Few more things to note here are, under the NDPS Act, any criminal conspiracy, even attempts to commit an offense attract the same punishment as the offense itself. Moreover, preparation to commit an offense also attracts half the penalty. Again, repeating offenses will attract one and half times the penalty and in some cases the death penalty. Since the penalties under this Act are very stiff, several procedural safeguards have been provided in the Act, to immune the accused who are not directly involved.
NCB's Final Statement on the matter
"It is not the job of NCB to find out from which industry and who are joining. Who is the son of an industrialist, who is the son of a film star, this is not our work.
Our job is to take action on an equal scale and we are taking action on the same scale and this action will continue in the future also.
Whoever is found involved in this network, irrespective of the industry they belong to, we will take action," NCB chief SN Pradhan told.