Sameer Wankhede’s money laundering probe transferred to Delhi, ex-NCB officer calls it ‘malafide action’

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) told the Bombay High Court on Tuesday that the probe into the money laundering case against Sameer Wankhede, former zonal director of Narcotic Control Bureau (NCB) Mumbai, has been transferred to Delhi.

Advocate Hiten Venegaonkar, appearing for the ED, said the transfer was done for administrative reasons. He said with the probe now being transferred to Delhi, Wankhede should approach the Delhi High Court for any relief.

Wankhede had approached the Bombay High Court seeking to cancel the case lodged by the ED and by way of interim relief. He also sought a pause in the probe and protection from any coercive action.

Wankhede’s lawyer, Aabad Ponda, told the bench of Justices PD Naik and NR Borkar that the ED’s action of transferring the probe from Mumbai to Delhi was “malafide”.

“Till Friday, the ED was sending summons to persons asking them to appear before its Mumbai office. But now, after the petition was filed by Wankhede, the probe has been transferred to Delhi,” Ponda said.

Ponda said the transfer was done to ensure that Wankhede did not get a hearing before the Bombay High Court, which had last year granted him interim protection from coercive action in the CBI’s corruption and extortion case.

“The entire proceedings are already transferred to Delhi. The entire cause of action lies there now. All papers have been sent to Delhi. There is nothing here now,” Ponda stated.

The bench said it would hear the matter on February 15 along with Wankhede’s petition filed last year against the CBI case.

The ED registered a money laundering case against Wankhede after taking note of a CBI FIR in an alleged Rs 25-crore bribe demand from Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan’s family to spare his son Aryan Khan in a drugs case.

Wankhede, a 2008-batch Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer of the Customs and Indirect Taxes cadre, said, in his plea, that the ED’s case “smacks of malice and vendetta”.

He claimed that the ED’s case was registered last year and summonses were being issued to some NCB officers after the former NCB officer filed a complaint against NCB’s deputy director Gyaneshwar Singh last month before a Delhi court, seeking action against him under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

He alleged that Singh and a few powerful people in power have unleashed all agencies like the CBI, ED and NCB to fix him in some case.

The CBI filed a case against Wankhede in May last year on charges of seeking a Rs 25-crore bribe for not framing Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan in the drugs-on-cruise case.

The CBI filed the case against Wankhede and others for alleged criminal conspiracy (120-B IPC) and threat of extortion (388 IPC), besides provisions pertaining to bribery under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PMLA) on a complaint from the NCB.

Aryan Khan was arrested in the alleged drug bust case on the Cordelia cruise ship on October 2, 2021. Later, the NCB filed a chargesheet in the drugs-on-cruise case against 14 accused, but gave a clean chit to Aryan Khan.

The much-hyped case took a twist when an ‘independent witness’ claimed in 2021 that Rs 25 crore was demanded by an NCB official and other people, including a witness, KP Gosavi, to let off Aryan Khan.

Later, the NCB conducted an internal vigilance probe against Wankhede and others and shared the contents with the CBI, leading to the registration of a case against him.

Published By:

Prateek Chakraborty

Published On:

Feb 14, 2024

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