'Why?': Bombay High Court questions Sameer Wankhede over release of 'SRK chats' - Report

May 22, 2023 04:15 PM IST

Shah Rukh Khan's son Aryan and several others were arrested by Sameer Wankhede - then NCB zonal director - in 2021 on suspicion of drug possession and use.

Sameer Wankhede - the ex-Narcotics Control Bureau zonal officer accused of trying to extort 25 crore from actor Shah Rukh Khan to free his son Aryan after he was arrested in connection with the 2021 drugs-on-cruise case - was reportedly reprimanded by the Bombay High Court Monday over the release of alleged WhatsApp chats between himself and the Bollywood star.

Ex-Narcotics Control Bureau zonal director Sameer Wankhede at the Bombay High Court for a hearing on the Aryan Khan case in Mumbai on Friday. (ANI)
Ex-Narcotics Control Bureau zonal director Sameer Wankhede at the Bombay High Court for a hearing on the Aryan Khan case in Mumbai on Friday. (ANI)

"You are before the court. When the matter is sub-judice, why have you circulated WhatsApp chats?" the court asked Wankhede, according to legal news website LiveLaw. On Sunday NCB officials acknowledged producing the chats in open court were a violation of the rules as an investigating officer should not have engaged in conversation with members of the family of the accused.

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The court, nevertheless, also extended interim protection to Wankhede.

This, though, is subject to his not publishing any more alleged WhatsApp chats or making press statements. The matter will be heard next on June 8.

The chats - which made headlines last week - claim to show the actor 'begging' the anti-drugs agency officer to 'go easy' on his son; the alleged chats were produced ostensibly to prove Wankhede's innocence.

Wankhede never informed his seniors about the conversation nor did he surrender the mobile phone on which he allegedly chatted with SRK.

READ | Wankhede's 'chats' with Shah Rukh Khan violated rules: NCB officials

The messages - the authenticity of which have since been widely questioned, including by those who claim Shah Rukh Khan doesn't have a WhatsApp account - refer Wankhede's 'integrity as an officer of the law'.

There is, though, no mention of a bribe.

Hindustan Times cannot independently verify these chats.

The alleged chats surfaced after Wankhede approached the Bombay High Court to quash the Central Bureau of Investigation's case against him.

The CBI has accused the revenue services officer of seeking the bribe of 25 crore, of which 50 lakh has allegedly been paid.

The CBI is to submit by June 3 a response to Wankhede's plea to quash the case.

Meanwhile, Wankhede today also claimed he had received multiple death threats over the past 96 hours; "I will write to (the) Mumbai Police Commissioner... demand special security."

READ | Wankhede, wife claim threats, seek cover amid Aryan Khan case probe

Wankhede - according to vigilance reports from the Narcotics Control Bureau - made six foreign trips in five years, owns four flats in Mumbai and reportedly bought a Rolex Gold watch that costs 22.05 lakh.

READ | Wankhede allegedly owns four Mumbai flats, made 6 foreign trips

Agency sources told Hindustan Times that Wankhede told the CBI the allegations against him were false and the product of a 'wild imagination'.

With input from agencies

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