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Money laundering case: ED tells HC it won’t arrest Sameer Wankhede till March 1

Mumbai: The Enforcement Directorate on Tuesday told the Bombay High Court that it will extend till March 1 its previous statement that it would not arrest Sameer Wankhede, the former zonal director of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), in a money laundering case.

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A division bench of Justices P D Naik and N R Borkar accepted the statement and posted Wankhede’s petition against the case on March 1.

The bench directed the probe agency to produce a copy of the ECIR (complaint) on that day.

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The ED registered a money laundering case against Wankhede after taking cognisance of a first information report (FIR) by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in an alleged Rs 25-crore bribe demand from superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s family to spare his son in a drugs case.

Earlier this month, Wankhede filed a petition in the high court seeking to quash the ED’s case and, through an interim order, sought protection from any coercive action and a stay on the probe.

The probe agency had last week said it would not arrest Wankhede till February 20 (Tuesday).

The ED’s advocate, Sandesh Patil, told the court on Tuesday that Solicitor General Tushar Mehta will appear in the case and sought an adjournment.

“My earlier statement of no arrest or coercive action would stand extended till the time the plea is taken up for hearing,” Patil told the court.

The bench accepted the statement and posted the plea for hearing on March 1.

The court also adjourned till March 27 another petition filed by Wankhede last year against the case of extortion and bribery registered against him by the CBI.

In his plea against the money laundering case, the 2008-batch Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer said the ED’s case “smacks of malice and vendetta”.

Wankhede claimed while the ECIR was registered last year, summons have been issued now to some NCB officers after he filed a complaint against NCB’s deputy director Gyaneshwar Singh last month before a Delhi court seeking action under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

He further alleged that Singh and a few powerful people have unleashed agencies, including the CBI, ED and NCB, to fix him in some case.

Wankhede was booked by the CBI in May last year on charges of seeking a Rs 25 crore bribe for not framing Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan in the drugs-on-cruise case.

Wankhede and others were booked under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 388 (threat of extortion) of the Indian Penal Code besides provisions under the Prevention of Corruption Act on a complaint from the NCB.

Aryan Khan was arrested in the alleged drug bust case on the Cordelia cruise ship on October 2, 2021.

Later, the NCB filed a chargesheet in the drugs-on-cruise case against 14 accused but gave a clean chit to Aryan.

The much-hyped case took a twist when an ‘independent witness’ claimed in 2021 that Rs 25 crore was demanded by an NCB official and others to let off Aryan Khan.

The NCB later conducted an internal vigilance probe against Wankhede and others and shared the contents with the CBI leading to the registration of a case against him.

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