Mumbai: IRS officer and former Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) zonal director Sameer Wankhede has told the Bombay High Court that the Special Enquiry Team (SET), comprising NCB officers from Delhi, had an ulterior motive of giving a clean chit to actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan and suppressed material evidence against him.
He has also contended that the SET report is "biased and has been prepared in order to wreak vengeance due to personal vendetta" against him by senior officials of the anti drug agency. Wankhede made the statements in an additional affidavit filed before the HC while refuting the allegations by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which claimed that it had prima evidence of extortion and corruption against Wankhede in Aryan Khan bribery case. The CBI affidavit, which was filed on June 2, urged the court to recall order of interim protection to Wankhede.
The CBI registered an FIR against Wankhede and four others for allegedly demanding ₹25 crore from Shah Rukh Khan for not framing Aryan Khan in an alleged drug bust case of Cordelia cruise ship in October 2021. The CBI filed the FIR in May stating that it was based on a written complaint by NCB and relevant approvals.
Wankhede had approached the HC which granted him interim protection from arrest till June 8. The SET has "twisted facts and labelled false allegations to jeopardise the career and character of honest officials," claimed Wankhede in his affidavit. The affidavit also claimed the SET sought to give a clean chit to Aryan Khan by suppressing material information and evidences in violation of legal provisions.
Selfie with celebrity
Justifying the selfie clicked by KP Gosavi, an independent witness in the drugs case, with Aryan Khan, Wankhede has said due to Aryan's celebrity status many persons wanted to click photographs with him. He further contended that Gosavi took the selfie without the NCB's consent.
Following allegations of irregularities in the probe by Wankhede and his team, the NBC had constituted an SET. "The entire endeavour of the SET was to create doubts regarding the Cordelia cruise case in order to meet their ultimate motive of giving Aryan Khan a clean chit," Wankhede claimed in the affidavit.
It also alleged that the SET report was “biased and prepared just to wreak vengeance" on him as his superior Deputy Director General of NCB Gyaneshwar Singh had personal vendetta against him. Wankhede has further contended that he had kept Gyaneshwar Singh in the loop and that the senior officer "guided" Wankhede through the Cordelia Cruise investigation; and the same is apparent from WhatsApp chats, claims Wankhede.
The IRS officer also claimed that, in August 2022, he lodged a complaint against Singh for committing "serious caste-based atrocities". The vigor and enthusiasm with which the CBI is contesting the case "smacks of malafide and personal vendetta by the responsible officials", claims Wankhede in the affidavit.
SET report is biased
Further, the SET report cannot be used for initiation of Criminal proceedings since it was admittedly prepared only for the administrative purpose for initiation of disciplinary action under the relevant Central Civil Service (Conduct) Rules. During the hearing on Thursday, Wankhede’s counsel Aabad Ponda told the court that as per the court's earlier direction, the officer appeared before the CBI for interrogation seven times and has been cooperating with the investigation.
Kuldeep Patil, appearing for CBI, told the court that the investigation in the case was at a crucial stage. A division bench of Justices Ajey Gadkari and SG Dige extended till June 23 interim protection from arrest.