Former NCB officer Sameer Wankhede allegedly allowed a private witness, KP Gosavi, a free hand in the Aryan Khan case, according to a CBI FIR. The conspiracy involved extortion and tampering with documents.
The former zonal director of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), Sameer Wankhede, along with former SP Vishwa Vijay Singh and intelligence officer Ashish Ranjan, have been named in a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) first information report (FIR) filed last week. Also named are two private individuals, KP Gosavi and Sanvile D’Souza, accused of extorting ₹18 crore from the family of actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son, Aryan Khan. The FIR alleges that Wankhede allowed a “free hand” to Gosavi during the proceedings against Aryan Khan, giving the impression that Gosavi was an NCB officer.
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The CBI FIR has also revealed that Wankhede’s team altered the original raid information report, failed to document the search of some individuals, and allowed certain suspects to go free. On the night of October 2, 2021, Wankhede led a team of officers, including Singh, Gosavi, and another witness, Prabhakar Sail, to raid Cordelia ship at the International Cruise Terminal at Green Gate off the Mumbai coast.
They seized 13 grams of cocaine, 5 grams of mephedrone, 21 grams of marijuana, 22 pills of MDMA (ecstasy), and ₹1.33 lakh in cash from the vessel. They also detained 14 individuals, including Aryan Khan, Arbaaz Merchant, and Munmum Dhamecha, and placed them under arrest on October 3. The agency subsequently arrested 17 more people in connection with the raid.
The SET gave Aryan Khan a clean chit in May 2022, and an internal vigilance inquiry was conducted against Wankhede and others, on which the CBI FIR is based. The SET found that “the accused persons were brought to the NCB office in a private vehicle of the independent witness KP Gosavi,” and 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.”
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The CBI FIR alleges that 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 to click selfies and record the voice note of an accused. The agency states that “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.”
According to the FIR, the SET 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.” Additionally, the search of many other persons whose names were available with the NCB officials, as suspected persons, was done but not documented. A few persons who were suspected were also allowed to leave without any documentation.
Further enquiries have been conducted into the allegations of criminal misconduct and corrupt practices of Wankhede and Ashish Ranjan independently. These enquiries have not been sufficient to justify their acquired assets as per their declared income. The vigilance branch of NCB has also noted that Wankhede did not properly explain his foreign visits and had apparently mis-declared the expenditure on his foreign travels. He has also not declared the source of his foreign visits properly.
In addition to these allegations, the CBI FIR also accused Wankhede of attempting to cover up his misconduct by using his official position to influence the investigation. The FIR stated that Wankhede had directed his subordinates to modify the initial information note to exclude certain suspects and include others in order to tailor the proceedings to his advantage. The search of many other individuals who were suspected of involvement was not documented, and some were allowed to leave without any records.
This cover-up was allegedly part of a larger conspiracy to extort a sum of ₹25 crore from the family of Aryan Khan, which was eventually settled at ₹18 crore. While Gosavi took a token amount of ₹50 lakh, a portion of this amount was later returned.
The CBI FIR further revealed that Wankhede had allowed a “free hand” to the independent witness KP Gosavi in the proceedings against Aryan Khan to create the impression that Gosavi was an NCB officer. This, according to the FIR, was part of a larger conspiracy to extort money from Khan’s family. Wankhede allegedly directed his subordinate Vishwa Vijay Singh to let Gosavi handle the accused while taking him to the NCB office, giving Gosavi and others a free hand in the proceedings. The CBI FIR stated that this allowed Gosavi to take the liberty of clicking selfies with Aryan and recording his voice note, which he later used to threaten the family with accusations of possession of narcotics substances.
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The SET that conducted the internal vigilance enquiry against Wankhede and others reportedly found that the accused persons, including Aryan Khan, were brought to the NCB office in a private vehicle of the independent witness KP Gosavi, who was allowed to enter the office after the raid, which is against the norms for an independent witness.
The presence of Gosavi around the accused persons was allegedly created intentionally to give the impression that he was an NCB personnel, even though there were NCB personnel to handle the custody of the accused persons. This allowed Gosavi and his accomplices to enter into a conspiracy to extort money from the family members of the accused.
The FIR also revealed that Wankhede and Ashish Ranjan, an intelligence officer of the NCB, were under investigation for allegations of criminal misconduct and corrupt practices, which could not be explained by their declared income. The vigilance branch of the NCB had reportedly discovered that Wankhede had not properly explained his foreign visits and had mis-declared the expenditure on his foreign travels. He had also not declared the source of his foreign visits properly. Additionally, Wankhede had allegedly engaged in the sale and purchase of expensive wrist watches with a private entity, Viral Ranjan, without informing the department or his parent cadre, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs.