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Why 'family friend' of NCB official appeared as a witness, asks Maha minister

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Updated: Oct 16, 2021, 21:37 IST


Nationalist Congress Party spokesperson and Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik on Saturday asked why the NCB's zonal director Sameer Wankhede used a "family friend" as an independent witness in three investigations.
Talking to reporters in Mumbai, Malik demanded to know the connection between Wankhede and one of the 'panchas' or independent witnesses used by the Narcotics Control Bureau during its recent raids.

Wankhede is in the news after he led a raid on a cruise ship off the Mumbai coast earlier this month and arrested actor Shah Rukh Khan's son Aryan among others following an alleged drug seizure.

Independent witnesses which are present at crime scenes should have no prior connection to the investigation agency, said Malik, the state minority affairs minister. But this particular witness had been seen in pictures with Wankhede's family members in the past, the NCP leader alleged.

"How can you have your family friend as an independent witness," he asked. Courts have observed in many rulings that if a witness is found to be involved in multiple cases probed by an agency, his or her credibility is nil, Malik said.

The NCP leader also alleged that the witness he was referring to had been seen in pictures with a "lady don" linked to the film wing of a political party. While Wankhede was not available for comment, another NCB official claimed that the witness Malik was referring to was a former Army officer. He also claimed that the law does not bar Pancha witnesses from appearing in more than one investigation.

It was unfortunate that families of investigating officials were being dragged into controversy in this way, the official told PTI.

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