Mumbai: There were several “irregularities” in the investigation of the drugs-on-cruise case involving Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan, an internal report by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has found, flagging “suspicious behaviour” on the part of seven to eight officers of the agency.
The revelations are the second major embarrassment for the agency following one in May this year, when, eight months after his sensational arrest and spending over three weeks in jail, Aryan Khan was cleared of all charges and the NCB admitted they had not been able to find “sufficient evidence” against him and five others.
A Special Investigation Team or SIT set up by the NCB to probe allegations of impropriety by its officers in their handling of the Aryan Khan case has sent its vigilance report to its headquarters in Delhi, officials said on Tuesday.
“The investigation found that there were many irregularities in the case. Questions have also been raised about the intention of the officers involved in the investigation,” a source said.
Statements of 65 people were recorded as part of the investigation. Some people changed their statements three to four times. The inquiry also uncovered lapses in the investigation of some other cases, the source said, adding that reports have been sent about all these cases.
The accusation of the probe being an extortion bid and that money had been demanded to stymie the case against Aryan Khan and other influential targets have not been substantiated.
However, it was found that there had been selective targeting of some people, sources said.
“The role of 7 to 8 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 disclosures also come on a day when the NCB announced the seizure of cocaine worth ₹ 50 crore with the bust of an international drug network. Officers reaffirmed the agency’s commitment to going after producers and traffickers instead of consumers.
“It would be wrong to say [the NCB had lost its way] but [now] we have our priorities better defined,” senior NCB officer Gyaneshwar Singh told NDTV.
Aryan Khan was among 20 people arrested last October from a cruise ship off Mumbai, and drugs had been found on some of those taken in with him.
He spent over three weeks in jail and the NCB accused him of being “a regular user of drugs”, involved in “illicit drug trafficking”, and “procuring and distribution of drugs” before walking back on the allegations.
The NCB’s case had begun unravelling barely a month later when it removed officer Sameer Wankhede – who along with his unit had been accused of glaring lapses – from the probe and transferred the case and five more from Mumbai to a Delhi-based team.