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Friday, September 30, 2022

NCB Gives Clean Chit to Aryan Khan, Five Others in Cordelia Cruise Drugs Case

The NCB did not name Aryan and five others in its charge sheet owing to a "lack of sufficient evidence"

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Raju Vernekar
Raju Vernekar
Raju Vermekar is a senior Mumbai-based journalist who have worked with many daily newspapers. Raju contributes on versatile topics.

INDIA. Mumbai: On Friday, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), which had filed a charge sheet in a Mumbai court in connection with the “drugs-on-Cordelia cruise” case last year, cleared Aryan Khan, the son of Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan.

The NCB did not name Aryan and five others in its charge sheet owing to a “lack of sufficient evidence.” They were detained in October of last year, and Aryan spent 26 days in jail until the Bombay High Court granted him release. 

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He was released from prison on October 30, 2021, after being arrested on October 2, 2021.

The NCB said in a statement that the Special Investigation Team (SIT), led by Deputy Director General (Operations) Sanjay Kumar Singh, conducted its investigation objectively and applied the test of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

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“Based on the investigation by the SIT, a complaint against 14 persons under various sections of the NDPS Act is being filed and the complaint against rest six persons is not being filed due to lack of sufficient evidence”.

All eight persons- Vikrant, Ishmeet, Arbaaz, Aryan, Gomit, Nupur, Mohak, and Munmun were arrested by the NCB’s Mumbai zonal office on October 02, 2021, from the international cruise terminal, located in South Mumbai. The vessel was operated by a company called Cordelia. 

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“All the accused were found in possession of narcotics except Aryan (Khan) and Mohak (Jaiswal),” the NCB said.

The NCB has filed a charge sheet with the registrar and the special NDPS court, which will take cognizance when the materials have been verified. 

The court gave the agency a 60-day delay to file the charge sheet, which expired on Friday.

Former NCB Mumbai Zone Director Sameer Wankhede and his staff made the arrests in the case. 

Following a massive political scandal, the NCB headquarters removed Wankhede from the investigation on November 6, 2021, and the matter was transferred to a Delhi-based SIT under DDG (Operations) Sanjay Singh.

The SIT’s primary findings, according to officials, were the fact that Aryan Khan was never in possession of drugs. As a result, there was no need for him to take out his phone and check his messages. Khan was not mentioned in the discussions as being a member of any international gang.

Our officers examined the case and gathered evidence that could be physically verified, according to NCB Director-General SN Pradhan. 

Physical proof is required in court for digital devices, their contents, and other circumstantial evidence.

Since no such evidence was found, the agency decided to drop the names of six accused persons from the charge sheet. However this charge sheet is not the finality of the case; if investigators find additional evidence during the trial, they may file a supplementary charge sheet.

The DG also said that there were procedural irregularities in the initial probe and therefore, the SIT was formed. The raid on the yacht was not video-recorded as mandated and the drugs recovered from multiple accused arrested in the case were shown as single recovery, which was a procedural lapse. 

A separate vigilance inquiry about the case is continuing and lapses on the part of any official if found would be dealt with firmly by the department, he said.

Speaking to the Transcontinental Times Lawyer Satish Maneshinde, who represented Aryan Khan in the case, said his client’s arrest and 26-day custody were unjustified particularly when drugs were not found in his possession. 

“There was no evidence of any kind. There was no material of any nature of the violation of any law much less the NDPS Act. We are happy that the SIT objectively investigated the case and decided not to file a charge sheet against Aryan Khan for lack of sufficient evidence,” he added.

 Wankhede had led a raid on the Cordelia cruise ship and his team had seized 13 grams of cocaine, five grams of mephedrone, 21 grams of marijuana, 22 pills of MDMA (Ecstasy), and 1.33 lakh in cash from the vessel. Subsequently, Prabhakar Sail, a key NCB witness, had alleged that Wankhede was part of a Rs 25 crore extortion racket targeting Khan. He alleged he was forced to sign sheets of blank paper.

The entire episode had turned into a war of attrition between Wankhede and Maharashtra Minister Nawab Malik who had accused Wankhede of falsely implicating people in drug cases and running an extortion racket. Later Malik himself was booked on charges of money laundering in some other case by the enforcement directorate.

Also Read: Twelve Drowning Children Rescued at Aksa Beach in Mumbai

Author

  • Raju Vernekar

    Raju Vermekar is a senior Mumbai-based journalist who have worked with many daily newspapers. Raju contributes on versatile topics.

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