HT reported on March 2 that the central agency had not found any evidence which suggests that Aryan Khan was part of a drugs conspiracy or an international drugs trafficking syndicate
New Delhi: The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on Friday exonerated Aryan Khan, son of actor Shah Rukh Khan, and five others as it charged 14 people in the drugs case related to the raid on the yacht Cordelia in Mumbai on October 2.
HT in March exclusively reported that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of NCB found no evidence that Aryan Khan was part of a larger drugs conspiracy or an international trafficking syndicate, and that there were several irregularities in the raid during which he was arrested.
The SIT, headed by Sanjay Kumar Singh, re-looked at the case and has concluded there is not enough evidence to pursue it. It was constituted after allegations surfaced that Aryan Khan may have been implicated and attempts to extort money were made.
“SIT carried out its investigation in [an] objective manner. The touchstone of the principle of proof beyond reasonable doubt has been applied. Based on the investigation carried out by SIT, a complaint [charge sheet] has been filed against 14 persons under various sections of [the] NDPS [Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances] Act. Complaint against [the] rest six persons is not being filed due to lack of sufficient evidence,” NCB said in a statement. The agency said when the raid happened except Aryan Khan and another person, the rest of the accused were found in possession of drugs.
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]…investigated the case in an objective manner and decided not to file a complaint [charge-sheet] against Aryan Khan for lack of sufficient evidence.”
Ruling Shiv Sena lawmaker Priyanka Chaturvedi said that truth has prevailed and slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for attempting to demonise Maharashtra by misusing central agencies in such cases.
BJP leader Madhav Bhandari said NCB must have explained its stand in the charge sheet why Aryan Khan was arrested and why he was in jail. “It is their duty to explain this.” He added what Maharashtra’s ruling parties are saying is immaterial. “It is their primary business to keep targeting us [BJP] on every issue.”
In the exclusive report in March, HT reported that contrary to the allegations of NCB’s Mumbai unit, some of the key findings of the SIT included that Aryan Khan was never in possession of drugs. Hence, there was no need to take his phone and check his chats. The chats did not suggest Khan was part of any international syndicate.
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.
NCB’s former Mumbai Zonal Unit director Sameer Wankhede, who carried out the raid, has since been repatriated to his parent cadre. Wankhede led a team of officers and some witnesses on the night of October 2 to raid the cruise ship at International Cruise Terminal at Green Gate in Mumbai. It 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.
Wankhede’s team relied on WhatsApp chats and claimed the accused were part of a larger conspiracy. It alleged that Aryan Khan was in touch with some foreign drug supplier, and the chats referred to “hard drugs” and “bulk quantities”.
The high court rejected NCB’s claims and noted there was no evidence to suggest the existence of any conspiracy. It said merely because Aryan Khan and others were together on the cruise cannot be termed as a foundation for a conspiracy. The court also refused to accept NCB’s contention that both Khan and Merchant told agency officials that they were going to consume the six grams of marijuana.
Prabhakar Sail, a key NCB witness, alleged Wankhede was part of a ₹25 crore extortion racket targeting Khan. He alleged he was forced to sign sheets of blank paper.