The Narcotics Crime Bureau (NCB) investigation against Aryan Khan has so far been like a bad soap opera, a vengeful operation, full of ifs and buts. Many feel that he is being persecuted for being his superstar father Shah Rukh Khan’s son, but after the allegation-filled affidavit by the panch witness, Prabhakar Sail, the case will most certainly be laughed out of any serious judge’s court.
The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985, is one of the most stringent legislation in the country is an established fact. There is, however, one little-used clause that actually helps keep some kind of checks and balances on those enforcing this legislation.
This clause — Section 58 of the NDPS Act — “punishment for vexatious entry, search, seizure or arrest” – allows people to get justice for the suffering at the hands of corrupt officials and their henchmen. It is this clause, which, if cited by the legal team of Aryan Khan, could eventually land the NCB team in trouble.
Sail, the panch witness of the NCB team, has leveled serious allegations of corruption and malicious intent against, among others, the NCB Mumbai Regional Director Sameer Wankhede.
Among other things, under Section 58, if any person empowered under the NDPS Act, “vexatiously and unnecessarily detains, searches or arrests any person”, he “shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or with a fine that may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.”
That the special court which turned down the plea for grant of bail to Aryan Khan may have erred in its reading of the law as well as basing its decision on faulty and legally suspect evidence is a question that will eventually be decided by a superior court. However, the indisputable fact remains that the actions of Wankhede and his team, including the witnesses, leading up to, and even after the arrest of Aryan Khan and others, leaves much to be desired.
The fresh round of serious allegations leveled by the panch witness aimed at Wankhade and others in his cohorts may have done enough damage already to the already-weak case (if there ever was one) against Aryan Khan. (A panch witness is supposed to be an independent witness unlike a prosecution witness or a defense witness).
More importantly, the allegations may actually help build a watertight case against those responsible for Aryan Khan’s travails, including those who have so far been happily clicking selfies and making them public so as to give out the impression that it is they, with the perceived blessings of the NCB brass, who are conducting the actual investigation in the case.
The ball is in the NCB’s court. After the damning allegations by Sail, who has even gone to the extent of submitting an affidavit alleging pay-offs involving the NCB officers and controversial private detective and NCB henchmen KP Gosavi, the NCB, not Aryan, has to prove its innocence.
To begin with, the NCB top brass would do well to find out who allowed controversial characters like Gosavi unfettered access to the accused? His selfies and pictures with Aryan, while the latter is in NCB custody, continue to be shared on social media.
The NCB would also do well to launch an independent investigation into whether there is truth in Sail’s allegation about having overheard Gosavi trying to extort crores of rupees from Shahrukh Khan’s secretary as a bribe – for himself and NCB officers like Wankhede – to settle the case.
Yesterday, immediately after Sail’s affidavit became public, Wankhede wrote to the Mumbai Police Commissioner, seeking protection from being framed “falsely with ulterior motives”, saying in the same letter Sail’s allegations had been referred to the NCB DG for “necessary action”.
Since Wankhede has been allegedly upholding the law so far, it is open for every citizen and law enforcement agency to demand accountability. The NCB, to begin with, needs to ask relevant questions about Wankhede. Responsibility needs to be fixed and it must begin with the NCB itself.
Maneesh Chhibber is a Contributing Editor with India Ahead News. The views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author.