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WhatsApp chat not enough, says NCB as Aryan Khan gets clean chit. Govt to act on ‘shoddy probe’

Drugs body chief says insufficient evidence found against Aryan, which did not satisfy the principle of ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.

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New Delhi: Dropping drug charges against Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan on Friday, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) said WhatsApp chats without physical evidence “holds no value”.

NCB chief S.N. Pradhan said there should be “physical corroboration” of WhatsApp chats. “Courts have clarified that WhatsApp chats in itself hold no value. You can talk about anything on WhatsApp, but if not corroborated with physical evidence, it is not complete evidence,” Pradhan said Friday.

The NCB on Friday cleared Aryan Khan and five others for lack of evidence in the cruise-ship drug case registered last October. Fourteen other accused will face trial.

“We found physical and circumstantial evidence against 14 people, and against the other six, we found very insufficient evidence which does not satisfy the principle of beyond reasonable doubt which has been reiterated by the Supreme Court and other courts,” Pradhan said.

“The principle of preponderance and probability is not applicable to the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act. There should be beyond reasonable doubt and we did not find such evidence,” Pradhan added.

After he spent over three weeks in jail last October, the Bombay High Court granted bail to Aryan Khan, noting that WhatsApp chats on his phone found “nothing objectionable”.

Meanwhile, news agency ANI reported that the government has asked a “competent authority” to take appropriate action against former NCB officer Sameer Wankhede for his “shoddy investigation” into the Aryan Khan case.

As NCB’s Mumbai zonal director, Wankhede on 2 October led the raid on the Goa-bound cruise ship Cordelia and allegedly recovered drugs. His team did the initial investigation during which Aryan Khan was charged under several sections of the NDPS Act.

By the first week of November, the case was transferred to the Delhi branch for a “deeper investigation”. The second phase of the probe was headed by Deputy Director General Sanjay Singh.

In the third week of October, allegations of extortion and corruption were brought against Wankhede. A witness in the cruise-ship case, Prabhakar Sail, said NCB officials including Wankhede, wanted to extract Rs 25 crore in order to let off Aryan.

Maharashtra Minister Nawab Malik also accused Wankhede of securing a government job by forging documents.

Wankhede’s tenure with the NCB ended on 31 December.

Also read: ‘No evidence’: Narcotics Bureau clears Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan, 5 others of drug charges


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