Bombay High Court grants interim protection from arrest to Sameer Wankhede

The court said no coercive steps shall be taken against former zonal director of Narcotics Control Bureau till April 10 

April 02, 2024 06:26 am | Updated 06:26 am IST - MUMBAI 

Former Zonal Director of  Narcotics Control Bureau Sameer Wankhede.

Former Zonal Director of  Narcotics Control Bureau Sameer Wankhede. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Bombay High Court on April 1 granted interim protection from arrest to former zonal director of Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), Sameer Wankhede. The court said no coercive steps should be taken against Mr. Wankhede till April 10.

Between November 2023 and March 2024, Mr. Wankhede received eight legal notices from the NCB for preliminary enquiry in relation to alleged irregularities in two cases probed by him — the drug case initiated after the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput where actress Rhea Chakraborty was arrested and another case against a Nigerian national for possessing cocaine.

A Division Bench of Justices Revati Mohite Dere and Manjusha Deshpande on Monday directed the NCB to respond to the plea of Mr. Wankhede by April 10 and till then, no coercive action should be taken against Mr. Wankhede.

Representing Mr. Wankhade, attorney Rajiv Chavan said Sanjay Singh, who leads the preliminary probe, should not conduct the investigation. “While probing these cases, including the one related to Sushant Singh Rajput, Mr. Wankhede, who was agency’s western region zonal director that time, used to take approvals from Mr. Singh, his superior officer. Whatever action Mr. Wankhede took in both the cases was after the approval of Mr. Singh and other superior officers,” Mr. Chavan argued.

Representing the NCB, advocate Manisha Jagtap argued that Mr. Wankhede could not have the option to pick which officer would conduct inquiry against him. 

The background  

It may be recalled that following Hindi actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death in June 2020, the NCB under Mr. Wankhade carried out an investigation into alleged drug use in the Hindi film industry, leading to the filing of a case against actress Rhea Chakraborty, her brother Showik Chakraborty and 33 others for alleged drug possession, consumption, and funding. Several artists from the film industry were questioned.

In his petition, Mr. Wankhede raised points that the enquiries set against him were malicious and based on anonymous complaints filed by former Maharashtra Minister and NCP leader Nawab Malik, who had personal vengeance against Mr. Wankhede as he had arrested the Minister’s son-in-law in a drug case. The petition also mentions the name of actress Sapna Pabbi, another complainant against Mr. Wankhade in the drug case, who, Mr. Wankhade claims, is in fact, a wanted accused in the chargesheet filed in the case.

In May 2023, Mr. Wankhade was also booked by the Central Bureau of Investigation on charges of extortion and bribery for allegedly seeking ₹25 crore from actor Shah Rukh Khan in connection with his son Aryan Khan’s case. Later, a money laundering case against him was lodged by the Enforcement Directorate. He was granted interim protection from any coercive action in both cases.  

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