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Bombay HC restrains CBI from arresting Wankhede till May 22

Mumbai : The Bombay High Court on Friday directed the CBI not to take any coercive action against Narcotics Control Bureau former Mumbai Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede in the alleged Rs 25 crore bribery case pertaining to the arrest of actor Aryan Khan after the cruise ship drugs raid of October 2, 2021.

A vacation bench comprising Justice Sharmila Deshmukh and Justice Arif Doctor also said that prima facie, there was a legal bar under the Prevention of Corruption Act, Section 17A, mandating the probe to be completed within four months of the alleged offence that had occurred in 2021.

The high court also directed Wankhede to cooperate with the investigations and appear before the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to record his statements, to which he agreed.

Since the notice was issued under CrPC’s Section 41A, the judges restrained the CBI from any coercive action against Wankhede till Monday, May 22, when the matter would come up for next hearing, according to the IRS officer’s lawyer Rizwan Merchant.

However, CBI counsel Kuldeep Patil opposed Wankhede’s plea and said he should seek anticipatory bail.

When the court asked Wankhede why he didn’t move the Sessions Court for bail, Merchant contended that he wanted to prevent the arrest of an IRS officer which could demoralise the entire force.

Wankhede had moved the Bombay High Court on Thursday, challenging the CBI FIR against him and five others, for allegedly demanding a bribe of Rs 25 crore from the kin of those arrested in the sensational raids on Cordelia cruiser, including Aryan, the son of Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan.

Of the four-month period, Patil argued, the duration starts from the date of approval from the Centre to conduct the probe against a public servant which was granted just recently, and felt that the probe would be hampered if Wankhede was protected from arrest.

Wankhede had earlier moved the Delhi High Court against the CBI but later withdrew his plea on May 17 and then moved the Bombay High Court here on Thursday.

Among other things, he had sought quashing of the CBI FIR against him, a fair probe and lodging a ‘cross FIR’ based on his complaint against NCB officers Vishwa Vijay Singh, Ashish Ranjan, and witnesses in the ship case, K. P. Gosavi and Sanvile D’Souza.

In his fresh plea here, Wankhede has claimed that he carried out the raids on the Cordelia Cruise ship under the specific orders of his seniors in the NCB including the Deputy Director-General Gnyaneshwar Singh.

The 2008 batch IRS officer contended that Singh was attempting to cover his own tracks and had been harassing him since the raids and did not stop even after he left the NCB.

The CBI FIR of May 11 was based on a SET report submitted by Singh into the Cordelia ship raid case which shot to global headlines.

After the raid, NCB claimed to have seized small amounts of different drugs, cash and nabbed 17 persons including Aryan Khan.

Later, when the former Nationalist Congress Party minister Nawab Malik – currently in jail in a different matter – and another witness Prabhakar Sail (who died last year) made allegations of bribes and extortion, Wankhede was taken off the case, and the probe was taken over by another NCB team, which gave a clean chit to Aryan Khan and others in May 2022.

In the latest case against him, Wankhede said that he had complete faith in the country’s judiciary and the Central government to give him justice in the false case in which he was being implicated.

Hindi Website