Cruise Ship Drug Case: Know the laws

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The NCB busting the Mumbai cruise ship drug case has been airing in the media for days. The involvement of high-profile personalities has what made this more noticeable and talk of the town. Aryan Khan, the son of Shahrukh Khan is also one of the accused. To this fact, the case has been recognized as no more a drug case but Aryan Khan case. The way it has been covered in news, the importance of laws and legal aspects got underground. This article presents the related laws and legal concepts and complexities in the case.

Facts of the case

The protagonist of this drug story is the nodal agency of drug law, Narcotics control bureau.  On 2nd October 2021, NCB busted Cordelia cruise ship and ceased the drug party in the mid-way to Goa.

So far, around twenty have been brought to judicial custody under the Narcotics Drug and Psychotropic Substance Act, 1985. The law was made to curtail the production, possession, purchase/sell and consumption of drugs or any psychotropic substance.
The problem of drug addiction has been in rising. Despite the imposition of laws and increase in sternness, no positive outlook could be seen. The worst part of this is the percentage of the youth population in it.

As in reports, the item seized included 13 grams of cocaine, 5 grams of MD, 21 grams of cannabis , 22 pills of ecstasy. The first legal contention was the quantity of these drugs found in possession. The drug issue was focused well during the Rhea and Sushant Singh Rajput case also. The legal experts by citing various high court judgements proved that small quantity possession of drugs is equally punishable. It was strongly held that in the case of Rhea Chakraborty v. Union of India that the offences involving small quantities are non-bailable.

The act defines three categories- small quantity, commercial, more than small less than commercial quantity. Each category has different penalties and punishment proportionally. The possession found in this case involves some drugs in the category of commercial quantity.

Laws and applicable provisions

With such a mammoth quantity of possession, the case has been treated more seriously. However, denying this was the first point of defence of all the accused in their bail application.

Section 37 of the NDPS act says about the offence to be cognizable and non-bailable. Aryan Khan’s lawyer had argued about the embargo of granting bail under Section 37 is not applicable provided that no such big amounts of the number of drugs were seized from him and all the allegations pertain to small quantities.

The allegations are not limited to this. Precisely the accused persons have been charged with numerous sections of the act which have been listed below.

  • Section 8(c) – Section 8(c) talks about the produce, manufacture, possess, sell, purchase, transport, warehouse, use, consume, import inter-State, export inter-State, import of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances. In the present case, the possession of the drugs in high quantities have been justified and declared. The sources of extraction and commercial exchange are yet to be investigated.
  • Section 27 and Section 28– This section explicitly deals with the consumption of these drugs. The act does provide some reliefs and provisions to excuse the medical exceptions. Section 28 provides for the punishment if any offence did under Section 27 of the act.
  • Section 29– This section is titled Punishment from abetment and criminal conspiracy. In simpler words, this section covers the situation where a person has made all preparation to commit or is a part of the group committing criminal conspiracy as illustrated under the act is an offence.
  • Section 35–  This section speaks about the presumption of culpable mental state. In simpler words, it interprets as the motive, or sound knowledge of action while committing an offence under this act. This presumption is based on reasonable doubt and not upon the preponderance of probability.

 Contention of Jurisdiction

The maintainability of the applications is the most important of all. Section 36 talks about constituting special courts to speed up the process under this issue.

Section 36 (a) declares that offences which are punishable with more than three years of punishment are triable only in Special court. The first bail application of Aryan Khan and two other associated accused Arbaaz Merchant and MUnmun Dhamecha was appealed in the court of magistrate. It was quashed on the ground of maintainability. The court with its 15-page judgement denied the bail and was directed to appeal to a Special court having the right jurisdiction. The Special NDPS court of Mumbai is yet to come with its decision on the bail application by 20th October.


With the involvement of high profiles and public figures, the case is under the meticulous observation of almost every citizen. The media coverage had been criticized due to twisting of the story making it dramatic with fake additions or manipulation. However, the alertness and promptness of NCB in matters will surely help in curtailing this drug problem. Drugs that are life saviors in the medical field uproots millions of families by underage deaths of the youth. This problem is the greatest of modern times which needs steps and regulations.

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