Mumbai: The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) team who arrested Aryan Khan and 19 others in the Mumbai drugs-on-cruise case conducted a “shoddy” investigation, according to the special investigation team (SIT) formed to re-investigate the case.
There was no necessary medical test for the defendants, no video recording of the raids, and no corroborative proof against WhatsApp communications, among the faults.
Narcotics Control Bureau director general SN Pradhan told Press Trust of India that it was a case of “underwhelming evidence” as compared to the golden principle of gathering “overwhelming evidence” against the accused.
The NCB also said in a statement it applied “the touchstone of the principle of proof beyond reasonable doubt” while re-probing this case.
Officials from the special investigation team found the NCB team did many “grave irregularities” and were allegedly just trying to “implicate” Aryan Khan in this case, reported Press Trust of India.
The NCB presented a nearly 6,000-page charge sheet against 14 defendants in the 2021 case before a Mumbai court on Friday, but did not charge six, including Aryan Khan, due to “lack of solid evidence.”
The charge sheet includes a variety of annexures, including exhibits from a number of WhatsApp discussions, witness and accused statements, and other technical details, with the operative component clocking in at around 400 pages.
The court is anticipated to take cognizance of the matter soon.
“The SIT found there was neither an intent to act nor there was actual act by those who have not been charged. We, however, have physical evidence in the case of the 14 accused,” Mr Pradhan said.
Aryan Khan, Samir Sehgal, Manav Singhal, Bhaskar Arora, Gopal Ji Anand, and Avin Sahu are among those not mentioned or granted a clean chit in the charge sheet, which was submitted under several provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS).
Vikrant Chokkar, Mohak Jaswal, Ishmeet S Chadha, Gomit Chopra, Abdul Kadar Shaikh, Shreyas Surendra Nair, Manish Rajgarhia, Chinedu Igwe, Shivraj R Harijan, Nupur Satija, Okoro Uzeoma, Arbaaz Merchant, Mummun Dhamecha, and Aachit Kumar are among the defendants mentioned in the charge sheet.
According to NCB officers, these 14 have been charged primarily under parts of the anti-narcotics law that deal with small-scale drug consumption and possession, as well as conspiracy. According to officials, these offenses entail a one-year sentence.
Officials from the National Crime Bureau said there were gaps in the investigation at nearly every level of the case, claiming that “identical sections” of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act were used against them all when rounding them up from the cruise.
According to the NCB officer, in the case of Avin Sahu, the accused had no narcotics on him but “confessed” to having consumed them, although no medical test was conducted to back up his claim.
Although no narcotics were found on Mohak Jaiswal, it was discovered during the SIT inquiry that he “procured drugs” for his buddies. As a result, Mr. Jaiswal has been charged.
The SIT also released four of the cruise organizers after reviewing the “contract” they had signed for organizing the cruise party and discovering that they were only responsible for event management and had no awareness of other matters, such as the attendees’ personal frisking.
“We have filed the charge sheet on the basis of whatever was found by our special investigation team on the last date of filing the charge sheet,” Mr Pradhan said.
He added that no “corroborative evidence” could be found against Aryan and 5 others who have been let off.
Asked if this was the end of the probe in the case or will there be a supplementary charge sheet, the DG said, “as of now you can say, yes, the investigation is done but there are all possibilities in case some fresh set of facts come to light.”
When asked if any action would be taken against the then Mumbai team headed by Sameer Wankhede, Mr Pradhan said “we cannot immediately jump to accuse the Mumbai unit…they must have had something and to probe this there is another SIT.”
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