Sameer Wankhede extortion case: Did Bandra politician give SRK's manager Pooja Dadlani ₹50 lakh to get Aryan Khan freed?

Sameer Wankhede extortion case: Did Bandra politician give SRK's manager Pooja Dadlani ₹50 lakh to get Aryan Khan freed?

In Wankhede’s case, the entire issue revolves around the Rs 25 crore allegedly demanded from actor Shah Rukh Khan, to protect his son Aryan from arrest, after the latter was caught in a raid on the Cordelia cruise ship by the NCB.

S BalakrishnanUpdated: Friday, May 19, 2023, 11:20 AM IST
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Sameer Wankhede (L), Pooja Dadlani (C), Aryan Khan (R) |

Mumbai: The action of the Central Bureau of Investigation against the former Mumbai zonal director of the Narcotics Control Bureau, Sameer Wankhede, has created resentment among Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officers.

In fact, the ongoing controversy is increasingly being perceived in Central bureaucratic circles as a battle between the IPS-dominated CBI and the IRS. In Mumbai, a war is already going on between the CBI and officials of the Goods & Services Tax (GST) department, following the failure of the Bureau sleuths in trapping a GST superintendent in a corruption case.

None of the officers in Delhi involved in investigation

What is significant is that Wankhede, who belongs to the IRS, is being ‘hounded’ while his erstwhile bosses in Delhi, who were in the loop at every step of the operation against Aryan Khan, and those belonging to the IPS, remain untouched.

In Wankhede’s case, the entire issue revolves around the Rs 25 crore allegedly demanded from actor Shah Rukh Khan, to protect his son Aryan from arrest, after the latter was caught in a raid on the Cordelia cruise ship by the NCB. It is alleged K P Gosavi, who was an independent witness engaged by the NCB, was fronting for Wankhede.

However, there is no evidence to suggest that Gosavi made the demand on behalf of Wankhede. The only evidence was an affidavit signed by Prabhakar Sail, the bodyguard of Gosavi. But this evidence is based on an extremely weak foundation because it admits that it is based on hearsay. In any case, Sail is no more, having died of a heart attack in April 2022. His family has not suspected any foul play.

Shah Rukh Khan's manager paid Rs 50 lakh as down payment to NCB's Gosavi

It is further alleged that the Rs 25 crore bribe amount whittled down to Rs 18 crore after hard bargaining by Shah Rukh Khan’s manager, Pooja Dadlani, and she paid Rs 50 lakh as down payment to Gosavi. There is no denying that this money did change hands. But its trail to Wankhede has not been established.

More importantly, Dadlani has not been summoned to record her statement in the 18 months that have passed after the arrest of Aryan Khan. “It is extremely mysterious why she has not been called in for questioning,” a senior IRS officer observed. Also, the source of the Rs 50 lakh is not known.

“Dadlani would not have spent her own money. So, who gave her this huge sum of money? It is believed that a Bandra politician known for his proximity to Bollywood had arranged the amount that fateful night,” a source added. Also, Shah Rukh Khan’s statement is yet to be recorded.

“It is a case which is near impossible to prove because there is no proof of demand for a bribe and there is no evidence of the so-called bribe amount of Rs 25 crore. I wonder why the CBI is pursuing such a weak case. Maybe it is a command performance to satisfy someone's mega ego,” said a lawyer, who is closely monitoring the developments.

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