Sameer Wankhede to Bombay High Court: I am being targetted

Sameer Wankhede to Bombay High Court: I am being targetted

He contended that the law mandates that the probe against him should have been completed within four months.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Tuesday, May 23, 2023, 08:51 AM IST
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Sameer Wankhede | FPJ

On Monday, a Bombay High Court’s vacation bench of Justices Abhay Ahuja and Milind Sathaye heard a petition filed by Sameer Wankhede, the former zonal director of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), seeking quashing of the FIR registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the Cordelia drugs bust bribery case.

Wankhede in his petition has alleged that he is being targeted even though he kept his seniors in the loop at every stage. He has also contended that the law mandates that the probe against him should have been completed within four months as per section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption Act (PC Act). He contended that the four months from October 2021 have already lapsed.

Leaked chats spell trouble for Wankhede

During the hearing, CBI counsel Kuldeep Patil informed the bench that Wankhede had circulated certain chats with actor Shah Rukh Khan which he had enclosed in his petition. The chats were exchanged between the official and the actor when the latter’s son Aryan was arrested in the case. Patil argued that Wankhede was supposed to attend the agency office as and when summoned and not transmit any messages to the media or to any other person with respect to the subject matter of the FIR. If he did this, an arrest may not be required, he added.

Patil, however, urged the court not to grant any “blanket protection” to Wankhede, as it “may come in the way of any arrest or action that the CBI would want to take under section 41 of CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedure)”. That order (of relief) cannot be indefinitely continued, added Patil.

An affidavit was filed by Kapil, the Superintendent Vigilance with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), who is authorised to file an affidavit for the NCB, which denied all contentions and claimed that Wankhede was “making a mountain out of a molehill”.

SET report indicates criminal offence

They claimed that the Special Enquiry Team (SET) had been constituted to inquire into the procedural lapses in the investigation and violation of the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964. That report showed prima facie commission of criminal offences under the PC Act and the Indian Penal Code. The SET report was sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs on April 24; on May 11, the MHA addressed a letter for prior approval against Wankhede, the affidavit read.

Thus NCB clarified that their departmental enquiries were different from the criminal action being undertaken by the CBI, which are simultaneous proceedings and have no effect or bearing on each other. The NCB affidavit also pointed out procedural irregularities found in the investigation of the 2021 Cordelia drug bust case. The affidavit also pointed out the disproportionate assets belonging to Wankhede and his wife.

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