Probe NCB’s ‘extortion racket’, fake raids, Maha Minister to SC

In another dimension to the sensational so-called rave party bust aboard a cruise ship last October, a Maharashtra Minister has appealed to the Supreme Court to take suo moto cognisance and initiate a probe into what he contended as “extortion and fake raids” perpetrated by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in the past few years.

Prominent farmers leader and Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavalamban Mission President Kishore Tiwari, who holds minister of state status, has filed a PIL after Aryan Khan, son of Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan and others were let off the hook by the NCB in the infamous raid – on board the Cordelia Cruise ship – commanded by the then Mumbai Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede.

“The Hon’ble Supreme Court should institute a high-level judicial enquiry into the malafide style, approach and affairs of the NCB at Mumbai, and its officials targeting film celebrity and few models since last two years, now established upon absolute clean chit given to Aryan Khan by the NCB,” said Tiwari in his plea.

This is the second such appeal by Tiwari to the apex court after the first one on October 18, 2021, seeking to highlight how the fundamental rights of Aryan Khan and other “soft targets” – trapped by the NCB after the raids sparked off an embarrassing controversy – were infringed.

“Now, as the NCB itself has given complete clean chit to the innocent people who were first implicated in a false case by abusing the position… as such unfortunate incidents of abuse of powers and authority by NCB is a matter of grave concern for law-abiding citizens of the country..”, said the PIL

Tiwari further argued that the SC’s intervention was necessary to safeguard “the public faith and confidence” in the law enforcement agencies of India like the NCB.

He claimed that in recent times, the NCB is abusing its position and trying to deprive the basic human rights of persons like Aryan Khan or others, accused under the NDPS Act, put them behind bars illegally, and subjected them to immense public humiliation.

Referring to Wankhede, who was removed from his position – with grave allegations levelled against him on various counts from different quarters including by state Minister Nawab Malik – for selectively and vindictively targeting rich persons or celebrities like Aryan Khan ostensibly to “uproot the citadel of drugs in Bollywood”.

Tiwari added that now with the absolute clean chit given to Aryan Khan and others, “its crystal clear that it was a big game of abuse of power and authority” by Wankhede against whom allegations of “extortion” also came up, and all this needs to be probed independently by the apex court under Article 139/142 of the Constitution.

The NCB had taken note of these and shunted Wankhede to his parent department for allegedly “running an extortion racket with the help of politically influenced people linked to the ruling party” (Bharatiya Janata Party), and reportedly acquiring huge assets or properties disproportionate to his known sources of income, etc.

Tiwari’s PIL comes even as Wankhede was given a fresh transfer to a posting in Chennai, and more revelations of the case details emerged from the NCB’S voluminous charge sheet filed before a special court last week.

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at q.najmi@ians.in)

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