Mumbai: A 2008-batch Indian Revenue Service officer, Sameer Wankhede, who shot into limelight for busting several drug cartels as Zonal Director of the Narcotics Control Bureau, Mumbai continued to get support from several organisations after CBI lodged an FIR on May 11, 2023 on allegation of demand of Rs 25 crore from Bollywood's actor, Shahrukh Khan upon arrest of his son Aryan in a case in 2021.
The Bombay High Court last month extended protection to the officer from any coercive action against till June 8.
Wankhede has filed a plea in the High Court for quashing the FIR lodged upon a complaint by the NCB, saying it has been registered after more than one and half year. A group of organisations extended their support to him after "wild allegations" were made against him.
He said in January, 2021, he had carried out investigation against Samir Khan, son-in-law of then Maharashtra Minister Nawab Malik in a case of possession of 189 kg of illicit ganja. The Minister afterwards, started nursing strong ill-will against him.
With regard to the case against Shahrukh Khan's son, he said the petitioner carried out the investigation under the direct supervision and control of his superiors on almost hourly basis.
"But in the aftermath of political controversy, and a media hysteria created thereafter, NCB set up Special Enquiry Team (SET) to enquire into the acts & conduct of Petitioner and his subordinates but made Gnaneshwar Singh as its Head thus creating anomalous situation where Singh came to enquire into his own conduct and in his malafide resolve to cover up his own tracks, has been harassing Petitioner ever since, and has not stopped even after he left NCB on January 3, 2022 anr returned to his parent Cadre," his plea stated.
He also pointed out the Mumbai police already investigated the allegations and closed the case in which the CBI lodged the regular case.
Wankhede claimed, "The petitioner is being victimised and harassed by Gnaneshwar Singh for being honest and upright has been accorded similar protection by the Bombay High Court by its Orders dated 28.01.2021 in matter qua jurisdiction of State Police which has maliciously set the Special Investigation Team (SIT for short) against him in the allegations of Malik, Minister in the Govt, of Maharashtra who nursed animus against the petitioner because of the arrest of his son-in-law Samir by NCB for being possession of 189 kg of illicit ganja and for being involved in drug trafficking and drug trafficking financing that was investigated by the petitioner and his team."
He said the allegations pertaining to the arrest of Aryan Khan being only an attempt for demanding money in exchange of his release is blatantly false and can be clearly seen from the messages sent by Shahrukh Khan himself during the time Aryan was in the custody of NCB.
"Shahrukh Khan has, vide his messages, clearly portrayed that he has no grievances against the Petitioner and has only requested to be kind to his son. Khan has not only praised the petitioner's integrity but has also expressed his anguish over the political involvement in the matter. It is obvious that the tone of his messages would have been completely contrary had the petitioner raised any demands for money for releasing Aryan Khan," his plea said.
The said conversation between October 3 and October 15 nowhere suggested that either in the message of Shahrukh Khan or in the reply of the petitioner that there was either a demand made or caused to be made for extending a favour or advantage to Aryan Khan, it added.
"If at all there was any semblance of truth in the wild and false allegations of demands being made, then the message of Khan would have made, if not a direct, at least an indirect reference to such a demand being made or either having been accepted or turned down. However, the same is clearly missing. If there was any truth in these allegations of demands then the conversation of the petitioner and Khan would have been in different lines and not in the form of a father persuading and pleading before law enforcement officer to help his son in reformation keeping in mind his future. These conversations in fact belie the allegations of NCB Headquarters, New Delhi as contained in the letter addressed to the CBI," it said.
"All the allegations of demand of Rs 25 crores are nothing, but a wild imagination of the social media based on false statements made by Nawab Malik in his press conferences against the petitioner only because he happened to have arrested the son-in-law of Nawab Malik for offences under the NDPS Act," it added.
It also contended Aryan Khan had in written submissions filed in the bail application before the High Court made statements denying any connection with the allegations surfacing against the petitioner on public/social media and acknowledged that he does not make any allegations against any individual in the prosecution department.