A surfactant based oxodiperoxo molybdenum complex, which could activate molecular oxygen, has been employed as a catalyst for controlled oxidation of benzylic alcohols to corresponding carbonyls. The oxidation reactions were carried out under aqueous environment, however, in the absence of any extraneous base or co-catalyst. Sensitive/oxidizable functional groups like cyano, sulfide, hydroxyl, aryl-hydroxyl, alkene (internal/terminal), alkyne (internal/terminal), and acetal were tolerated during the transformations. Such selectivity is attributed to the mild nature of the catalyst. The methodology could also be scaled-up for multi-gram synthesis and the protocol is likely to find practical use since it requires an inexpensive recyclable-catalyst and easily available oxidant (under green conditions). A plausible mechanism is proposed with the help of preliminary computational study. © 2019 Elsevier Inc.