Mumbai: A special court here on Monday said it cannot pass a blanket order barring courts from taking cognizance of an affidavit of an independent witness in the drugs-on-cruise episode, in which he has levelled allegations of extortion attempt by NCB zonal director Sameer Wankhede and others on actor Shah Rukh Khan, whose son Aryan is an accused in the case.
The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) and Wankhede had earlier in the day filed two separate affidavits before the special court against the allegations of extortion attempt levelled against them.
In the affidavits, the anti-drugs agency and Wankhede sought the court to pass an order saying no court should take cognizance of the affidavit prepared by the independent witness, Prabhakar Sail.
As per the NCB and its zonal director, the allegations made by Sail were only an attempt to create hurdles and scuttle the investigation into the case.
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The central agency had also sought the court to pass appropriate orders to ensure there is no tampering with the evidence or investigation in the case.
Special Judge V V Patil, designated to hear cases related to the Narcotics Drugs Psychotropic Substances (MDPS) Act, disposed of the affidavits, saying such blanket orders cannot be passed.
“Considering the nature of the relief claimed in the applications (affidavits), no such blanket orders can be passed. It is for the concerned court or authority to pass appropriate order at the relevant stage,” the court said.
It added that the matter was sub-judice before the Bombay High Court which is scheduled to hear the bail pleas filed by Aryan Khan (23) and his co-accused in the drugs case Munmun Dhamecha on Tuesday.
“Therefore, no such orders can be passed by the court as prayed. Hence, the applications are disposed of,” the court said.
Wankhede, in his affidavit submitted to the court, refuted the allegations levelled against him, and claimed he was under a “lurking threat of arrest as it does not suit some vested interests for conducting an honest and impartial investigation”.
The IRS officer also claimed that he was being personally targeted by a well-known political figure, and the only reason he can fathom is that the NCB had arrested “this person’s son-in-law Sameer Khan”.
Notably, Sameer Khan, now out on bail, is the son-in-law of NCP leader and Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik, who has been making a series of allegations against Wankhede.
On Sunday, Prabhakar Sail, in a statement to the media, claimed that Rs 25 crore was demanded by an official of the NCB and other persons, including absconding witness K P Gosavi, to let off Aryan Khan in the case.
Sail told media persons that he had overheard Gosavi telling one Sam D’Souza over the phone, after Aryan Khan was brought to the NCB office following the October 2 raid on the cruise ship, about a demand of Rs 25 crore and “to settle at Rs 18 crore as they have to give Rs eight crore to Sameer Wankhede”.
Sail had said he would soon release evidence to support his claim.
The NCB and Wankhede rubbished these claims in their affidavits submitted to the court on Monday.
“After spearheading the investigation in the cruise ship case, I am being personally targeted by a well-known political figure for reasons best known to him,” Wankhede said in his affidavit.
Wankhede’s affidavit claimed personal vendetta against him and his family members.
“I am under a lurking threat of arrest as it does not suit some vested interests for conducting an honest and impartial investigation,” Wankhede said, adding he was ready to face a probe to prove his innocence.
The NCB zonal director added that the court should take cognizance of such pressures put on officers with an intent to demoralise them so that the truth does not come to light.
“The present case (cruise drugs case) involves influential and rich persons from the higher echelons of the society in which all kinds of threats including that of arrest are made against me,” Wankhede said.
The Narcotics Control Bureau, in its affidavit, termed the allegations levelled against Wankhede and other officers as “completely false, misleading and mischievous and an attempt to malign and tarnish the image of an independent agency like the NCB”.
“The allegations of extortion against NCB officials and money changing hands is a clear attempt to undermine the ongoing investigation and create pressure with a malafide and ulterior motive,” it said.
The agency added that its officers, including Wankhede, have an impeccable service record, replete with honesty and integrity and they are working tirelessly towards making Mumbai a drug-free city.
Special public prosecutor for the NCB, Advait Sethna, on Monday submitted the affidavits before the special court.
Sethna told the court that Sail was threatening to release some evidence which would hamper the case and hence, appropriate orders should be passed.
An NCB team led by Wankhede earlier this month allegedly seized drugs onboard a cruise ship off the Mumbai coast following which Aryan Khan and some others were arrested on October 3.
He is currently lodged in the Arthur Road jail in Mumbai under judicial custody. The special NDPS court had last week refused to grant him bail following which he approached the high court.