Mumbai Cruise drug haul case: 'Cannot comment as not associated with NCB now', says Sameer Wankhede

Wankhede has earlier served in Airport Customs, Service Tax and National Investigation Agency before being posted at the DRI.

Somendra SharmaUpdated: Friday, May 27, 2022, 11:49 PM IST
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Photo: ANI

On a day the Narcotics Control Bureau’s special investigation team (SIT) investigating the Cordelia cruise did not file a charge sheet against six persons, including Aryan Khan, for lack of sufficient evidence, Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer Sameer Wankhede, who had earlier been part of the Cordelia Cruises drug bust case, declined to comment on the matter. When asked whether the Centre had asked the competent authority to take appropriate action against him for his alleged shoddy investigation into the Aryan Khan case, the erstwhile Mumbai NCB zonal chief he said, “I have no knowledge about the said information and I cannot comment anything on the (Cordelia) case as I am not associated with the NCB anymore.”

Wankhede, an IRS officer of the 2008 batch, was sent to the NCB Mumbai zone in August 2020, ‘on loan’ from the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), in the wake of the drugs probe being conducted by the agency into the death of 34-year-old actor Sushant Singh Rajput.

He had been serving as zonal director of the NCB’s Mumbai unit since August 31, 2020, and was given extensions. Wankhede’s extended tenure with the NCB ended on December 31, 2021, and with no order for another extension being forthcoming, he was sent back to his parent organisation, the DRI, which functions as an investigation agency under the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs.

Wankhede has earlier served in Airport Customs, Service Tax and the National Investigation Agency in Mumbai as well, before being posted at the DRI.

Advocate Satish Maneshinde had, after the arrest of his client Aryan Khan, argued in the court that his client had been invited to the event being held on the cruise ship by the organisers and that no incriminating material had been recovered from him (Aryan Khan) and there was no possession or evidence of consumption.

On November 5, last year, the NCB brass in Delhi had transferred six high-profile cases from the Mumbai Zonal Unit, including the cruise raid case involving Aryan, who is the son of actor Shah Rukh Khan, to the NCB’s SIT.

A statement, issued then by IPS officer and the deputy director general (operations), Sanjay Singh, who is heading the SIT, had stated that the SIT had taken over a total of six cases, with national and international ramifications, from NCB Mumbai, in order to conduct deeper investigations to ascertain forward and backward linkages.

A 22-member team headed by the then NCB zonal director, Sameer Wankhede, had, on October 2, conducted a clandestine mid-sea raid on information that drugs were being used at a cruise party. The agency had arrested 20 persons, including two Nigerian nationals in the said case.

Following the raid, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Nawab Malik had levelled a series of allegations against Wankhede and certain witnesses involved in the case.

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