Sushant Singh Rajput drugs case: Bombay High Court issues directive on coercive action against NCB’s Sameer Wankhede

by beauanthon0225

The Bombay High Court has said that no coercive action can be taken against Sameer Wankhede in the drugs case linked to Sushant Singh Rajput till April 10

The Bombay High Court on Monday said no coercive steps shall be taken against IRS officer Sameer Wankhede till April 10 on notices issued to him on the NCB’s preliminary inquiry over irregularities in a drugs case related to actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death.

The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) initiated the preliminary inquiry against Wankhede in connection with the drugs case pertaining to Rajput’s death and another case of arrest of a Nigerian national for drugs possession, probed by Wankhede, after it received anonymous complaints of irregularities during the investigation into them.

After Rajput allegedly committed suicide at his residence in Mumbai in June 2020, the NCB initiated a probe of alleged drug use in the film industry.

The agency later lodged a case of alleged possession, consumption and financing of drugs against Rajput’s girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty, her brother Showik and 33 others.

From November 2023 to March 2024, the NCB issued eight notices to Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer Wankhede, directing him to appear before the agency’s Deputy Director General Sanjay Singh, who is heading the preliminary inquiry.

Wankhede filed a petition in the HC last week challenging the inquiry and the notices issued to him, claiming he was being targeted and the inquiry was an “act of vengeance”. A division bench headed by Justice Revati Mohite Dere on Monday directed the NCB to respond to the plea by April 10. The court said until then, no coercive action shall be taken against Wankhede.

Wankhede’s counsel Rajiv Chavan told the HC that Singh cannot head the inquiry against Wankhede. “While probing these cases, including the one related to Sushant Singh Rajput, Wankhede, who was at the time the agency’s western region zonal director, used to take approvals from Singh, who was his superior officer. Hence, now Singh cannot head this inquiry,” Chavan claimed.

Whatever action Wankhede took in both the cases was after approval from Singh and other superior officers, he added. NCB’s advocate Manisha Jagtap said Wankhede cannot choose and pick which officer would conduct the inquiry against him. Wankhede in his plea also claimed the NCB cannot initiate such inquiries based on anonymous complaints.

The petition further said that in the drugs case lodged after the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, the complaint against Wankhede has been allegedly submitted by actor Sapna Pabbi who is, in fact, shown as a wanted accused in the chargesheet filed in the case.

“To rely upon the allegations made by a wanted accused is nothing short of outrageous and a desperate attempt by the NCB to legitimise an anonymous complaint manufactured solely for the purpose of injuring the petitioner (Wankhde) in mind, body and repute,” the plea said.

Wankhede, a 2008-batch IRS officer of the Customs and Indirect Taxes cadre, was also booked by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in May last year on charges of extortion and bribery for allegedly seeking Rs 25 crore to not frame actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan in a case of drug bust on a cruise ship.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) also later lodged a money laundering case against him. Wankhede had moved the HC against both the cases and was granted interim protection from any coercive action.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by DNA staff and is published from PTI

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