On October 2, Aryan Khan, son of Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan, was arrested during a drug raid during a rave party on a cruise ship off Mumbai.
Although no drugs have been recovered from Khan, 23, he has been held in Mumbai Central Prison since October 8, having been repeatedly denied bail until a court from Mumbai accepts his appeal on Thursday.
Khan, along with two other defendants, are due for release tomorrow evening, the court said. Thursday’s decision comes after two lower courts dismissed bail requests.
The high-profile case is being discussed across India, with supporters of the famous descendant claiming that he is being unfairly targeted by authorities because of his father’s fame.
Indian Narcotics Control Board (NCB) investigators allege Khan is part of a larger plot to procure drugs from an international network.
Khan is held at Arthur Road prison in Mumbai
Khan’s lawyers have raised questions about the legality of lower courts repeatedly denying bail for drug trafficking because no drugs were found and the main evidence was based on WhatsApp chats.
Pattern of drug-related arrests in Bollywood
In recent years, Bollywood stars have often found themselves caught up in drug-related cases.
In a case similar to Khan’s, actress Rhea Chakraborty was arrested in September 2020 for allegedly procuring drugs for her boyfriend, actor Sushant Singh Rajput.
In both cases, defendants with ties to the film industry have been repeatedly denied bail. And in both cases, investigators relied heavily on WhatsApp chats from the phones of those arrested to make their case and claimed the defendants were part of a larger conspiracy to distribute drugs.
“No celebrity is greater than the law. But the law must always be scrupulously observed, regardless of the status of the accused,” Rebecca John, senior lawyer at the Supreme Court of India, told DW.
“In that case, if Aryan Khan was not Shah Rukh Khan’s son, he may well have been released on bail a long time ago,” John added.
“In this sense, the law has been abused to incarcerate a young man in express violation of constitutional protections,” said John, one of India’s most esteemed lawyers, famous for handling many high-profile cases. .
Vikas Pahwa, also a senior lawyer, suggested that Aryan Khan was paying the price for his celebrity status.
“When there is no recovery [of drugs], there is no proof of consumption. There is a blatant abuse of process, âPahwa told DW.
Some say a trend is emerging in India where authorities are refusing bail in high-profile cases.
“What seems to be more and more accepted at the jurisprudential level is that the refusal of release on bail is seen in a way as a sign of judicial righteousness”, told DW Fuzail Ahmad Ayyubi, lawyer at the Indian Supreme Court.
“Whether or not legal procedures were followed may not be the issue here, rather it is the use of discretion contemplated in bail that is at the root of the problem,” Ayyubi added. .
Are Indian authorities targeting Khans?
Shah Rukh Khan is one of India’s most famous celebrities and has been nicknamed the “King of Bollywood”. Khan is also a member of the Indian Muslim community, which has led some to believe that there is a political motive behind his son’s arrest.
“The target is not Aryan Khan, it is Shah Rukh, who has dominated the country as the greatest celebrity the nation has ever seen, “human rights activist and activist Saira Shah Halim told DW. educator.
“There is a motive to tarnish the mark of Shah Rukh and then dismantle the other Khans making it look like they have fallen out of favor,” she added.
Halim said she believed Aryan Khan’s case was part of a larger ploy to reap political dividends by making a famous Muslim family look bad.
And Halim is not alone in his opinion.
In a recent article by Indian express titled “Crushing the Stars”, academic Pratap Bhanu Mehta argued that there is an ideological war against a constructed “Muslimness”.
This includes making Muslim religiosity invisible in public spaces, including limiting cultural expression, from food to Muslim celebrities.
According to Mehta, the authorities’ interest in ostensibly taming the excesses of Bollywood is not to show that movie stars are equal before the law, but rather to demonstrate who has real power and the ability to control the cultural order. .
âCertainly the accused is Shah Rukh Khan’s son, not the star himself, but in the whole process the target couldn’t be clearer,â Mehta said.
Bollywood rather silent on the Khan affair
Surprisingly, few Bollywood celebrities have openly shown their support for Shah Rukh Khan, with only a handful of social media.
Director Sanjay Gupta praised Khan on Twitter.
“He has always stood up for all the causes of the film industry. And the artful silence of the same film industry in its moment of crisis is simply shameful.”
Gupta then welcomed the High Court’s decision to grant bail.
Filmmaker Rahul Dholakia called Khan’s arrest “outrageous” on Twitter.
âYou say there is a ‘possible’ connection to his ‘international’ racket based on the ‘WhatsApp’ chat retrieved from his phone, which you confiscated on a ‘bust’ where he ‘had nothing’? And you’ve been fishing for days and yet I haven’t found anything? ”