Serious, grave allegations of irregularities against Wankhede, hence inquiry set up: NCB tells HC | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Serious, grave allegations of irregularities against Wankhede, hence inquiry set up: NCB tells HC

PTI |
Apr 10, 2024 05:50 PM IST

Serious, grave allegations of irregularities against Wankhede, hence inquiry set up: NCB tells HC

Mumbai, The Narcotics Control Bureau has submitted to the Bombay High Court that there were serious and grave allegations of irregularities against its former zonal director Sameer Wankhede and hence a preliminary inquiry was initiated against him. The agency filed its affidavit last week in response to Wankhede's petition challenging the 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 affidavit filed by Sanjay Singh, deputy director general of the NCB, sought dismissal of Wankhede's plea, claiming that he was "forum hunting" and "delaying and prolonging" the inquiry initiated against him. On April 1, a division bench of Justices Revati Mohite Dere and Manjusha Deshpande had accepted the NCB's assurance that no further notice would be issued to Wankhede pending hearing of his petition. The court had then also directed the agency to file its affidavit to Wankhede's plea. The NCB in its affidavit said Wankhede has filed multiple litigations on the same issue including the one before the Central Administrative Tribunal , which had refused to interfere. "The petitioner has filed multiple rounds of litigation to evade the preliminary inquiry. The petitioner, by filing multiple litigations before different forums, is prolonging and delaying the inquiry," the affidavit said. The agency in its affidavit said the complaints it has received against Wankhede of irregularities were "serious and grave". The agency refuted Wankhede's claims that the inquiry was initiated based on anonymous complaints. "In January 2024, actor Sapna Pabbi submitted a complaint to the NCB, claiming that a Look Out Circular, issued against her was kept pending without any reason," the affidavit said. Pabbi was issued summons by the NCB in connection with the drugs case related to the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput. She has been shown as a suspect in the chargesheet filed by the NCB. Pabbi, in her complaint to the NCB, claimed that despite informing the investigating officer that she was not available in India and requesting for her statement to be recorded virtually, the officers claimed she was not cooperating and issued LOC against her. Pabbi had also claimed that the NCB illegally carried out searches at her residence in Mumbai, where the officers claimed to recover two strips of a medicine for which she has a doctor's prescription. "Considering the serious allegations made against the petitioner , it was felt necessary to conduct an inquiry against him and call him to ascertain the veracity of the allegations," the affidavit said. Wankhede's counsel Rajiv Chavan had on the last hearing on April 1 submitted to the court that the inquiry against the IRS officer could not be conducted by Singh as he was his superior. Wankhede claimed that in the past he had sought approvals with regard to the drugs case from Singh. The NCB claimed in its affidavit that when Wankhede was the zonal director of Mumbai, Singh was the deputy director general and hence he was not the reporting authority of Wankhede. The agency said the complaint copies or chargesheet of certain cases were sent by Wankhede to Singh only for "perusal and not for seeking approval". The 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 officer Wankhede, directing him to appear before the agency's deputy director general Sanjay Singh, who is heading the preliminary inquiry. Wankhede in his petition claimed he was being targeted and the inquiry was an "act of vengeance". Wankhede, a 2008-batch IRS officer of the Customs and Indirect Taxes cadre, was also booked by the Central Bureau of Investigation in May last year on charges of extortion and bribery for allegedly seeking 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 later also 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.

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