Keeping up his attack on the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), state minister and NCP leader Nawab Malik alleged on Saturday that in three cases, the agency used a panch witness who was known to its officers.
As per law, a pancha, who attests to seizures made from a scene of crime, should be an independent witness.
Malik tweeted that a person identified as Fletcher Patel, who has been named as a panch witness in three cases including the Rhea Chakraborty case, was known to NCB Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede. He also put up photographs of Fletcher with Wankhede and his sister Jasmine, a lawyer.
Malik also put up photographs of panchnama in three cases where the name of Fletcher Patel is mentioned as a panch witness.
Malik asked if it was legal for someone who is known to an officer to be used as panch witness.
He demanded that the NCB hold a press conference and clarify how someone known to the officer was used as panch witness.
While Wankhede did not respond to the allegations, an NCB official said that Fletcher was connected to an Army veterans‘ group in the city. “The photograph in which he is seen with Wankhede was an Army event held at CST, where they had taken vows to eliminate the threat of narcotics from the country,” the official said.
He added, “Patel respects the work done by Wankhede and is a rakhi brother of Wankhede’s sister, who is a lawyer.”
Malik had earlier held press conferences where he had said that two panch witnesses used by the NCB in the Cordelia drug bust case were known to Wankhede. While one had a prior crime record, another was linked to the BJP.
Malik had alleged in the past that Wankhede was working at the behest of the BJP to malign Bollywood. The NCB had hit back, alleging that since Malik’s son-in-law had been arrested by the NCB earlier this year, following which he was behind bars for around six months, Malik was trying to get back at the NCB.
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