Mumbai: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has urged the Bombay High Court to recall its earlier order granting interim protection from arrest to IRS officer and former Narcotics Control Bureau’s (NCB) zonal director Sameer Wankhede, saying it has a prima facie case against him on charges of extortion and bribery in connection with the arrest of actor Shah Rukh Khan's son Aryan following alleged seizure of drugs from a cruise ship. It further claimed that the relief would adversely affect the ongoing investigation.
The central agency in May registered an FIR against Wankhede and four others for allegedly demanding Rs 25 crore bribe for not framing Aryan Khan in the drugs case.
Wankhede's plea for quashing FIR against him
The IRS officer approached the high court seeking quashing of the FIR alleging that he was being targeted and he had kept his seniors in the loop at every stage. Following this, a vacation bench had granted him interim protection from arrest.
The central agency, on June 2, filed its reply to Wankhede’s petition and sought that the interim protection order be recalled and the plea be dismissed.
The affidavit read: “The CBI has a prima facie case and grant of any interim relief would adversely affect the ongoing investigation. Hence, it is respectfully prayed that the interim relief granted to the petitioner (Wankhede) from arrest may please be recalled.”
It said that the FIR was registered against Wankhede based on a written complaint forwarded to it by the NCB on May 11, 2023 along with previous approval of the competent authority under relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act. “The written complaint received in CBI discloses the commission of cognizable offences hence a regular case has been registered,” the affidavit added.
Serious offences in FIR
"Further it claims: “The allegations mentioned in the FIR are very serious and sensitive in nature pertaining to acts of corruption, criminal conspiracy and extortion by threat by the accused persons named in the FIR, who were the then public servants of NCB.”
Also, the central agency said that the investigation in the case was at an initial stage and the probe was being conducted in an "unbiased and professional manner". Before quashing the criminal proceedings/ FIR, it is pertinent to consider the “gravity and seriousness” of the offence alleged against Wankhede.
It further stated that FIRs can be quashed only in the “rarest of rare cases where there is no cognisable offence made out against the accused”.
Wankhede’s plea likely to be heard on Thursday, June 8
In October 2021, Aryan Khan and others were arrested for alleged possession, consumption and trafficking of drugs. Aryan Khan was granted bail by the high court after spending three weeks in jail. The NCB had subsequently dropped Aryan Khan’s name from the chargesheet citing lack of evidence.
A Special Enquiry Team was set up headed by officers of NCB, Delhi, to carry out an inquiry into the case and against its own officers.