The vigilance team probing allegations of corruption against Narcotics Control Bureau Mumbai zonal director Sameer Wankhede has raised questions about the manner in which witnesses were handled and allowed to speak to suspects and conduct interviews in the Cordelia drugs case.
The vigilance team also found procedural lapses in team Wankhede’s search of cruise ship Cordelia, off the Mumbai coast on October 2, and subsequent arrest of 20 people including actor Shah Rukh Khan‘s son Aryan Khan. Headed by NCB deputy director general Gyaneshwar Singh, the team will submit a detailed report on its findings to the NCB headquarters which could impact the Cordelia case, according to insiders.
“A series of lapses have been noticed including those while making seizure of items/drugs, the statements of independent witnesses. Even the arrest memo has not been drawn up as per the procedures laid down under the NDPS Act. Crucial details like the exact spot on the cruise liner of the various people including the accused/officials at the time of the raid, details of what exactly was transpiring when raids were underway, how and when was the accused taken into custody are missing in some of the statements of certain independent witnesses,” a senior official speaking on condition of anonymity, said. “These statements are necessary and hold evidential value to sew a case together. If certain milestone details are missing, it could help the accused during the course of trial,” the source said.
The vigilance team was constituted to conduct a probe into payoff allegations against Wankhede by Prabhakar Sail, an independent witness. Sail appeared before the NCB Delhi vigilance team for the second day on Tuesday. He was questioned by the NCB for more than 10 hours and it is close to completing the recording of his statement.
Singh on Tuesday met Mumbai police commissioner Hemant Nagrale and sought assistance in its probe related to allegations against Wankhede. Singh is learnt to have discussed Wankhede’s allegations that he was being spied upon, on which the Mumbai police has clarified that they have investigated the matter and closed the case. “The Mumbai police is learnt to have informed Singh that they have closed the complaint made by Wankhede as their probe has revealed that the two constables had visited the cemetery and sought CCTV footage in connection with a theft case they were pursuing and that they were not monitoring Wankhede’s movements,” sources said.
Meanwhile, Dadlani who was summoned by the Mumbai police’s special enquiry team, which is also probing the veracity of the claims made by Sail, failed to turn up on Tuesday.