The investigating officer in the drugs-on-cruise case was "motivated to somehow implicate Aryan Khan", an enquiry by a special investigation team of Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has found.
The team was probing the initial investigation into the drugs case led by the anti-drugs agency's former zonal director Sameer Wankhede.
Aryan Khan, son of superstar Shah Rukh Khan, was arrested in October after a drugs raid on a cruise ship off the Mumbai coast. He was later granted bail. Yesterday, his name was cleared in the case as the NCB's 6,000-page chargesheet, naming 14 accused, doesn't mention him.
"It appears I.O. was motivated to somehow implicate Aryan Khan in the drugs case. Courts in general are very lenient with persons from whom drug is not recovered and against whom there is no cogent evidence," the SIT said in an internal communication regarding the enquiry.
"It may be relevant to mention here that courts sometimes cast aspersion on the motives of investigating officers if courts believe that the I.O. was motivated," the internal report added.
It also said that Aryan's Khan phone was seized by the investigating officer without proper procedure and data, including WhatsApp chats, were extracted.
"The Honourable Supreme Court has time again questioned the evidentiary value of Whatsapp chats," the report said, adding that "our excessive reliance on Whatsapp messages will be severely counterproductive during trial".
The drugs-on-cruise case had snowballed into a political controversy after Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik accused Mr Wankhede of trying to frame Aryan Khan. What followed was a protracted war of words between the anti-drugs officer and the NCP leader.
Amid the controversy, the NCB formed a special team to examine the probe into the case.
SN Pradhan, chief of NCB, admitted yesterday that there were "procedural irregularities" in the initial probe and added that action will be taken against those responsible.
"Some procedural irregularities were found in the initial investigation by the local (Mumbai) unit. SIT (Special Investigation Team) had to take over. And that happens in the rarest of rare cases," SN Pradhan, the Director-General of the NCB, told NDTV.