'Serious, Grave Allegations Against Sameer Wankhede': NCB Tells Bombay High Court

'Serious, Grave Allegations Against Sameer Wankhede': NCB Tells Bombay High Court

In May 2023, a corruption and extortion case was registered by the CBI against Wankhede for allegedly demanding Rs25 crore not to frame actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan in the Cordelia cruise drug bust case of October 2021

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Wednesday, April 10, 2024, 07:54 PM IST
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Sameer Wankhede | FPJ

Mumbai: There were “serious and grave” allegations against former Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) zonal director Sameer Wankhede which prompted the anti-drug agency to initiate preliminary enquiry, said the NCB in its affidavit before the Bombay High Court. The NCB has also claimed that Wankhede is “forum hunting” and  “delaying and prolonging” the enquiry initiated against him.

The agency was replying to a petition filed by Wankhede challenging the notices issued to him on the NCB's preliminary enquiry over alleged irregularities in a drugs case related to actor Sushant Singh Rajput's death.

On Wankhede’s plea, on April 1, the HC asked NCB to file its reply. The NCB had at the time made a statement that no further notice would be issued to Wankhede pending the hearing of his petition.

"Multiple rounds of litigation to evade preliminary enquiry"

The IRS officer has filed multiple litigations on the same issue including one before the Central Administrative Tribunal which had refused to interfere, the affidavit stated. “The petitioner (Wankhede) has filed multiple rounds of litigation to evade from the preliminary enquiry. The petitioner by filing multiple litigations before different forums is prolonging and delaying the enquiry,” the affidavit filed by deputy director general of NCB Sanjay Singh read. 

It claimed that the NCB the enquiry was initiated based on anonymous complaints, which were serious and grave. 

Actor Sapna Pabbi submitted a complaint in January stating that a Look Out Circular issued against her was kept pending without any reason. She was summoned by the NCB in connection with the drugs case related to Rajput’s death. She is shown as a suspect in the NCB’s chargesheet. 

Pabbi’s complaint stated that despite her informing the investigating officer that she was not available in India and requested to record her statement virtually, the officers issued an NOC against her claiming that she was not cooperating. Also, the NCB illegally carried out searches at her residence in Mumbai where the officers claimed to have recovered two strips of a medicine for which she has a doctor's prescription. 

“Considering the serious allegations made against the petitioner (Wankhede), it was felt necessary to conduct an enquiry against him and call him to ascertain the veracity of the allegations,” the affidavit emphasised. 

Senior counsel Rajiv Chavan, for Wankhede, had argued that Singh cannot conduct inquiry against Wankhede since the former was his superior and was informed of every step of the probe in the drug case related to Rajput’s death.

NCB refutes Wankhede's claims

Refuting the claim, the NCB has said that when Wankhede was Mumbai NCB’s zonal director, Singh was the deputy director general (operations) and hence he was not the reporting authority of Wankhede. 

Besides, Wankhede sent complaint copies or charge sheet of certain cases to Singh only for "perusal and not for seeking approval".

After Rajput allegedly committed suicide at his residence in Mumbai in June 2020, the NCB initiated a probe of alleged drug use in the film industry. The agency later lodged a case of alleged possession, consumption and financing of drugs against Rajput's girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty, her brother Showik and 33 others. 

The NCB has issued eight notices to Wankhede from November 2023 to March 2024 directing him to appear before Singh, who is heading the preliminary inquiry. However, Wankhede has alleged that he was being targeted and the inquiry was an "act of vengeance".

In May 2023, a corruption and extortion case was registered by the CBI against Wankhede, a 2008-batch IRS officer of the Customs and Indirect Taxes cadre, for allegedly demanding Rs25 crore not to frame actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan in the Cordelia cruise drug bust case of October 2021. The Enforcement Directorate later lodged a money laundering case against him. 

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