Aryan Khan case officer Sameer Wankhede, under probe over INR25 crore bribe demand, gets relief from Bombay HC

Sameer Wankhede, the former Mumbai zonal director of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), who is under investigation for alleged corruption, has been given some relief today by the Bombay High Court.

Wankhede had moved court today with an application to quash the case filed against him by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The court took up his plea and ordered the CBI not to take any “coercive action” until May 22, when the next hearing is likely to be held. A vacation bench of the court passed the order after Wankhede gave an undertaking that he would be present at the CBI office in Mumbai at 11am tomorrow.

Anti-narcotics official Sameer Wankhede has alleged that the CBI is being used against him to help Aryan Khan, son of Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, escape punishment for drug possession. Photo courtesy: Instagram @swankhede.irs and @__aryan__

An FIR had been filed against Wankhede a few days ago by the CBI, on the basis of a vigilance report prepared by the NCB. The vigilance report, accessed by NDTV, said that Wankhede (and a few others) had demanded a bribe of INR25 crore (about USD3 million) from Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, after his son Aryan Khan was caught with a few others for alleged narcotics possession during an NCB raid on the pleasure cruise ship Cordelia in early October 2021.

Wankhede had allegedly demanded INR25 crore from Shah Rukh Khan to keep Aryan’s name out of the drug bust list. Whatever be the truth of this, Aryan was named as one of the partygoers caught with drugs, and he spent 25 days in custody, but was eventually granted bail as no substantial case was made out against him.

The NCB vigilance report gives some details of the allegedly lavish life led by Wankhede and his family. The report said that from 2017 to 2021, he and his family had six overseas vacations — in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Portugal, South Africa, and the Maldives. The NCB said that Wankhede only reported a spend of INR8.75 lakh for all these trips, a sum that could cover the flight tickets, at best, for so many family trips, which meant he was hiding his expenses.

The vigilance report said that Wankhede owned four flats in Mumbai and more than 41,000 acres of land in Washim district. He apparently also owns a Rolex watch that was sold to him at INR17 lakh, which was INR5 lakh less than the market price of the watch.

The NCB report said that the income tax returns of Wankhede and his wife show a total annual income of just over INR45 lakh, which was too little for the assets they owned and the expenses they incurred.

Wankhede was asked to report to the CBI yesterday to give a statement in connection with his alleged demand of the INR25 crore bribe from Shah Rukh Khan, but Press Trust of India reported that he skipped the CBI visit. The Delhi High Court had given Wankhede time till May 22 to move “appropriate forum” against the FIR registered by the CBI. So, he moved Bombay High Court today.

Earlier today, Wankhede said that a senior Bureau officer — Gyaneshwar Singh, NCB deputy director — was victimising him because of his caste. Singh headed a Special Enquiry Team that prepared the report on the basis of which the CBI filed its case.

Pointing a finger, Wankhede, who is from a backward community, said today that Singh had made him the subject of a corruption investigation “only because I had lodged a complaint against Singh with the National Commission for Scheduled Castes”, after Singh allegedly harassed Wankhede.

Wankhede also alleged that Singh had “used” the CBI against him to help Aryan escape any punishment in the Cordelia drug bust case.

CtoI News Desk
CtoI News Desk – CtoI

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