According to the first information report (FIR) submitted last week by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Sameer Wankhede, a former zonal director of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), gave KP Gosavi, a private individual and independent witness, “free hand” in the proceedings against actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan in October 2021 to give the impression that Gosavi was an NCB officer.
It was made public on Monday that the FIR, which was filed last week and names Wankhede, former NCB SP Vishwa Vijay Singh, NCB intelligence officer Ashish Ranjan, and two private individuals—Gosavi and his aide Sanvile D’Souza—as accused—had been filed.
It has also come to light that Wankhede’s team altered the original raid information report, did not record searches of people, and even let a few suspects go free.
According to the CBI, Wankhede “had directed in his capacity as supervisory officer to take Gosavi and Prabhakar Sail as the independent witnesses in the proceedings against the accused and directed Singh to let Gosavi handle the accused while taking him to NCB office, thereby allowing a freehand to Gosavi and others in order to create such a visual impression that Gosavi had the custody of the accused and was escorting/dragging him towards NCB office.”
This was a component of the scheme to blackmail Khan’s family for not framing his son, which was settled at a sum of 18 crore. In reality, Gosavi took a token sum of 50 lakh rupees, but later returned some of it, according to the FIR.
The night of October 2, 2021, an Indian Revenue Service (IRS) team led by officer Wankhede, who has since been transferred from the NCB, raided the Cordelia ship at the International Cruise Terminal at Green Gate off the coast of Mumbai. The team also included Singh, Gosavi, and another witness, Prabhakar Sail.
The vessel was allegedly found to contain 13 grammes of cocaine, 5 grammes of mephedrone, 21 grammes of marijuana, 22 pills of MDMA (ecstasy), and 1.33 lakh rupees in cash. Additionally, 14 persons were apprehended, and on October 3 Aryan (24), Arbaaz Merchant (26), and Munmum Dhamecha (28) were detained following hours of questioning.
The agency then detained 17 other suspects in connection with the raid.
In May 2022, a special investigation team (SET) of the NCB cleared Aryan, and the basis for the CBI FIR was an internal vigilance investigation into Wankhede and others.
“The enquiry by the SET has revealed that the accused persons (referring to people arrested by Wankhede’s team including Aryan) were brought to the NCB office in a private vehicle of the independent witness KP Gosavi. It appeared that the presence of the independent witness Gosavi around accused persons was created intentionally in such a manner so as to give the impression that Gosavi was an NCB personnel even though there were NCB personnel to handle the custody of the accused persons,” CBI FIR states.
Gosavi was allowed to come to the NCB office after the raid which is against the norms for an independent witness. In this manner, Gosavi took the freedom and clicked selfies and recorded the voice note of an accused, it adds.
The agency said, “it was this position that allowed Gosavi and D’Souza amongst others to enter into conspiracy to extort an amount of ₹25 crore from the family members of the alleged accused, Aryan Khan by threatening them of the accusation of offences of possession of narcotics substances”.
About the raid, SET, according to the FIR, found that “names of certain suspects were dropped from the 1st information note – ‘I-Note’ and the names of certain other accused were included subsequently through modification to suit their proceedings. The initial I-Note contained 27 names and the modified I-Note contained only 10 names”.
According to the report, some Cordelia passengers were searched.
“Many more people whose names were on file with NCB authorities as suspects were searched, but the search was not recorded. A few suspects were also permitted to leave without proper identification, according to the FIR.
In the FIR, it was said that additional investigations had been conducted in relation to “allegations of criminal misconduct and corrupt practises of Wankhede and Ashish Ranjan independently, which could not sufficiently justify their acquired assets as per their declared income.”
“The vigilance department of NCB has also noted that Wankhede had not adequately justified his foreign journeys and had reportedly misdeclared the spending on his international travels. Additionally, he did not properly disclose the purpose of his international travels, it claimed.
In addition, it has come to light that Wankhede engaged in the acquisition and selling of pricey watches with a private party named Viral Ranjan without alerting the relevant authorities (NCB or his parent organisation, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs).