No relief for NCB as court refuses to pass blanket order on witness ‘extortion’ affidavit

Mumbai : In a setback to the Narcotic Control Bureau (NCB), a special court has disposed of the application filed by the agency seeking a blanket order barring courts from taking cognizance of an affidavit of an independent witness in the Mumbai cruise ship drugs case, 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.

Panch witness Prabhakar Sail had alleged in an affidavit that he was made to sign blank sheets of paper by the NCB and Sameer Wankhede during the investigation into the Aryan Khan drug case. The affidavit by Prabhakar Sail was made viral on social media but it had not been filed in any court.

The NCB and Sameer Wankhede had earlier in the day filed two separate affidavits before the special court against the allegations of extortion attempt levelled against them.

In one affidavit, the NCB asked the court to pass appropriate orders to ensure there is no tampering with the evidence, witnesses or investigation in the case. In the other affidavit, the anti-drugs agency and Sameer 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 Prabhakar Sail, witness and bodyguard of another panch witness KP Gosavi in the drug case, were only an attempt to create hurdles and scuttle the investigation into the case.

Special Judge VV 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.

He said, “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 added, “Moreover, the matter is sub-judice before the Bombay High Court in bail applications. Therefore, no such orders can be passed by this court.”

NCB and Sameer Wankhede had moved the Sessions Court after it was widely reported on Sunday that Prabhakar Sail had stated in an affidavit that the NCB made him sign a blank panchnama in the cruise ship drugs case, in which Aryan Khan, has been implicated.

Prabhakar Sail also expressed a threat to his life, even as his employer KP Gosavi has gone missing. The affidavit also spoke about Prabhakar Sail overhearing a telephonic conversation as per which Rs 25 crores was demanded to settle the Aryan Khan drug case.

In his plea before the Sessions Court, Sameer Wankhede 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.

“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.

Dear Readers,
As an independent media platform, we do not take advertisements from governments and corporate houses. It is you, our readers, who have supported us on our journey to do honest and unbiased journalism. Please contribute, so that we can continue to do the same in future.

Related posts