CBI says it has prima facie case of extortion and bribery against Sameer Wankhede

Wankhede had moved the high court seeking to quash the FIR and interim protection from any coercive action.

Mumbai: The CBI has sought the Bombay High Court to recall its earlier order granting interim protection from arrest to NCB’s former Mumbai 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 Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan following alleged seizure of drugs from a cruise ship.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) last month filed an FIR against Wankhede and four others for allegedly demanding Rs 25 crore bribe in return of not framing Aryan Khan in the drugs case.

Wankhede had moved the high court seeking to quash the FIR and interim protection from any coercive action.

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A vacation bench of the HC last month granted interim relief to Wankhede and directed him to cooperate with the investigation.

The CBI on June 2 filed its affidavit in response to Wankhede’s petition and sought that the interim protection order be recalled and the plea be dismissed.

“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,” the agency said.

The CBI in its affidavit said it registered the FIR against Wankhede based on a written complaint issued to it by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on May 11, 2023.

“The written complaint received by the CBI disclosed commission of cognisable offences, hence a regular case was registered against Sameer Wankhede,” the affidavit said.

“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,” it added.

The CBI said the investigation in the case was at an initial stage and the probe was being conducted in an “unbiased and professional manner”.

The agency said before the case was quashed, it was pertinent for the court to consider the “gravity and seriousness” of the offence alleged against Wankhede.

The CBI said, “FIRs can be quashed only in the rarest of rare cases where there is no cognisable offence made out against the accused.”

The high court is likely to hear Wankhede’s plea on Thursday.

Wankhede and the other accused in the case have been booked under charges of criminal conspiracy and extortion threats under the Indian Penal Code and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act pertaining to bribery.

Aryan Khan and several others were arrested in October 2021 for alleged possession, consumption and trafficking of drugs. Later, Aryan Khan was granted bail by the high court after spending three weeks in jail.

The NCB subsequently filed its chargesheet, but did not name Aryan as an accused in the case citing lack of evidence.

The anti-drugs agency had then set up a special enquiry team to carry out an inquiry into the case and against its own officers.

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