Former Mumbai NCB zonal director Sameer Wankhede has moved the Bombay High Court challenging the Enforcement Directorate’s money laundering case against him, claiming that it was a “counter blast” to a complaint filed by him against the anti-drug agency’s senior official.
The ED registered the money laundering case against Mr Wankhede after taking cognisance of a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) FIR in an alleged Rs 25 crore bribe demand from Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s family to spare his son Aryan Khan in a drugs case.
Mr Wankhede, a 2008-batch Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer of the Customs and Indirect Taxes cadre, in his plea said the ED’s case “smacks of malice and vendetta”.
The petition filed on February 6 through advocates Karan Jain, Sneha Sanap and Aditya Targe sought for the ED case to be quashed and an interim order to be passed granting him protection from any coercive action.
Mr Wankhede also sought for the probe being carried out by the ED to be stayed till his petition against the CBI case is heard and decided.
Both his petitions (one against the CBI case and the other against the ED case) are likely to come up for hearing on February 15 before a division bench headed by Justice PD Naik.
In the CBI case, Mr Wankhede has been granted interim protection from coercive action by the High Court last year.
In the petition against the ED case, Mr Wankhede claimed that while the ECIR (enforcement case information report) was registered last year, summons have been issued to some NCB officers now after Wankhede filed a complaint against NCB’s Deputy Director General Gyaneshwar Singh last month before a Delhi court seeking action against him under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Mr Wankhede claimed he was constrained to approach the court in Delhi as both the Delhi and Mumbai police had failed to conduct an inquiry into the complaint letters he addressed to them against Singh.
A court in Delhi on February 6 had issued notice to the Deputy Commissioner of Police, South West Delhi directing him to submit an action taken report on Mr Wankhede’s complaints.
Mr Wankhede in his petition filed in the High Court against the ED’s case said Mr Singh and few powerful people in power have unleashed all agencies like the CBI, ED and NCB to fix him in some case.
“The ED’s case is a counter blast to the complaint filed by the petitioner (Wankhede) against IPS Gyaneshwar in January 2024,” his plea said.
It further alleged that Mr Wankhede had received a call threatening him to withdraw the complaints he has submitted against Mr Singh and resign from his post as IRS officer.
Mr Wankhede was booked by the CBI in May last year on charges of seeking Rs 25 crore bribe for not framing Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan in the drugs-on-cruise case.
The CBI booked Mr 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 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’ had claimed in 2021 that Rs 25 crore was demanded by an NCB official and other persons, including a witness Gosavi, to let off Aryan Khan.
The NCB later conducted an internal vigilance probe against Mr Wankhede and others and shared the contents with CBI leading to registration of a case against him.