Did the NCB selectively target Aryan Khan in drugs-on-cruise case? What the enquiry report reveals

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A new internal report has left the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) red-faced.

After making waves for arresting Shah Rukh Khan’s son, Aryan Khan, last October in the Cordelia cruise ship drug bust, a report has found irregularities in the investigations by the drug agency. The report also flagged “suspicious behaviour” on the part of seven to eight officers of the agency.

So, what exactly is this report and what are its findings? Here’s what we know.

What the report reveals

Gyaneshwar Singh, NCB, deputy director general, who heads the vigilance inquiry team, has submitted a 3,000-page report in the wake of the Cordelia ‘drug bust’ case to NCB director general Satya Narayan Pradhan.

According to reported information, there were “irregularities” in the investigation into the drugs-on-cruise case, involving Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan and also found that “selective treatment” was meted out when it came to naming some persons as accused in the case.

“The role of seven to eight NCB officers has been found to be suspicious in this case, for which departmental inquiry has been initiated. Permission has been sought from senior officers to take action against those who are outside NCB,” an official said.

The report also suggested that the federal drug agency needed to formulate an official media policy, taking note of how information regarding the cruise drug case had been provided to the media.

It has been revealed that during the Aryan Khan case, statements of 65 people had been recorded. However, some people changed their statements three to four times.

The report also found several procedural lapses in other cases probed by Sameer Wankhede, who headed the Mumbai zonal office of the agency.

No extortion bid

While the report findings are an embarrassment for the drug agency, the vigilance team did not find any evidence of extortion.

Shortly after the Cordelia raids, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and former Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik had alleged that the case was an attempt by Wankhede and his team to extort Shah Rukh Khan. These allegations were compounded when a witness in the case, Prabhakar Sail, made bribery claims.

Earlier Sail had alleged that he had overheard a phone conversation about Rs 25 crore being demanded from Shah Rukh Khan.

It was after these allegations that the vigilance team had been formed. An NCB official said, “We did not find any kind of extortion bid in this case.”

Aryan Khan’s drug case

The entire matter stems from the arrest of Aryan Khan on 3 October 2021 after the NCB, then helmed by zonal director Sameer Wankhede, raided the Cordelia cruise ship after they had been tipped off that there were drugs on board.

Aryan Khan, along with several others, was arrested and accused of consumption and conspiracy, among other charges.

Following his arrest, Aryan was moved to Arthur Road Prison in Mumbai. After spending 22 days behind bars, Aryan was then released on bail on 28 October.

Also read: From Salman Khan to Aryan Khan, when celebrities were caught in legal hassles

After investigations and several other controversies, the 24-year-old could heave a sigh of relief on 27 May when the drug agency dropped all charges against him, saying “no drugs had been found on Aryan Khan”.

A chargesheet filed by the drug agency named 14 accused in the case but left out six others, including Aryan Khan, “due to lack of evidence.” NCB chief SN Pradhan had then said to NDTV that there were “irregularities” in the initial investigation. “Action will be taken against those responsible for the lapses,” he had told NDTV.

Aryan Khan’s lawyer Mukul Rohatgi had told the media that Shah Rukh Khan was relieved that his son’s name had been cleared. “Ultimately, the truth has prevailed,” Rohatgi had told NDTV.

With inputs from agencies

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Did the NCB selectively target Aryan Khan in drugs-on-cruise case? What the enquiry report reveals
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