Stating that the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has shown compelling reasons to seek additional time to file the chargesheet in the drugs case connected to Aryan Khan, a special court on Thursday granted an additional 60 days’ time to the agency to file the chargesheet in the case.
The court also observed that the agency has clearly indicated progress of the case in its two report charts. It also considered the gravity of the offences and the number of accused in the case, while permitting the plea.
Mar 31 was the last day of the 180-days stipulated period after first arrests on Oct 2 last year, for the agency to file the chargesheet as per the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. Getting the additional time was crucial, or the two of the 20 accused in the case, who are still in judicial custody, would have been eligible for statutory or default bail. To prevent that, the NCB would have had to hurriedly file the chargesheet.
The agency through its special public prosecutor Advait Sethna had approached the court on Monday seeking additional time and had done so under a provision of the NDPS Act under which the time for filing the chargesheet can be extended from the stipulated 180 days, up to one year.
The agency had sought time citing the voluminous digital data in the case, running up to thousands of pages. It had also said that the statement of the main panch witness, Kiran Gosavi, who was present during the seizure procedure on the date of the raid on the luxury cruise ship Cordelia, was not fully recorded. Gosavi is presently in judicial custody of a Pune court. The agency said it had failed to get favourable orders to record his crucial statement.
One of the two accused still in custody - Abdul Kadar Shaikh through his advocate Apoorv Srivastava had told the special court through his reply to the agency’s plea, that NCB’s plea is filed on baseless grounds without showing reason for not being able to file the chargesheet within the stipulated period. It has failed to show any compelling reason for being granted additional time, the response said. Regarding Gosavi’s statement yet to be recorded, the response stated that he was not concerned with the seizure procedure of Shaikh and hence there is no reason Shaikh should remain in custody.