The Narcotics Control Bureau has firmly denied media reports that Kshitij Prasad, a film executive arrested last week in connection with a drugs probe linked to actor Sushant Singh Rajput's death, was "harassed (or) blackmailed" or subject to "physical ill treatment" by its officers.
In a statement issued Monday night the anti-drug agency said allegations that it had humiliated Mr Prasad - who yesterday told a Mumbai court that he had "traumatised" by his interrogation and "forced to falsely implicate" filmmaker Karan Johar - were "mischievous and completely untrue".
"It is very unambiguously stated here that the above news item in circulation is mischievous and completely untrue. (Officers) of the Narcotics Control Bureau, Mumbai Zonal Unit, arrested Kshitij R Prasad as incriminating evidence was recovered from him... he was placed under arrest after following due process of law," the NCB statement said.
The NCB said Mr Prasad had been allowed to meet his wife and father-in-law. The agency also said the Mumbai court that granted it custody of Mr Prasad made no observations about physical abuse.
"The observation of court is... "From the submission of the accused it reveals no physical ill treatment given to him during the course of his custody with the NCB authority"," the NCB statement said.
Yesterday Kshitij Prasad's lawyer, Satish Maneshinde, told the court that NCB officers promised to let his client go if he implicated either Karan Johar or a few others they named. Mr Prasad, his lawyer said, initially refused to comply as he "did not wish to falsely implicate anyone".
"Sameer Wankhede (one of the officers named by Mr Prasad in his complaint) told him that since he did not want to cooperate, he would teach him a lesson... made him sit on the floor... then put the shoe of his foot near Kshitij's face and proclaimed this was his true aukat (status)," the lawyer told the court, adding that other officers around "laughed at this plight".
The incident "severely traumatised" Mr Prasad, his lawyer said and, after nearly 50 hours of such treatment, his client "unwillingly, and under threats, signed the statement".
Mr Prasad was arrested on Saturday after his name came up during the interrogation of alleged drug peddlers. A NCB team searched his house but "found nothing... apart from a stale and dry cigarette butt" and "began insisting it was a ganja joint", his lawyer said.
Last week Karan Johar denied claims Mr Prasad was associated with his firm - Dharma Productions.