Extortion and bribery case: HC permits Sameer Wankhede to amend plea to include ground of probe against giver of bribe

The Bombay High Court on Wednesday permitted IRS officer Sameer Wankhede, named as accused by the CBI in an extortion and bribery case related to the Cordelia cruise drugs case, to amend his petition to add additional ground that the giver of the alleged bribe should also be prosecuted.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) case is that Wankhede, former Mumbai zonal director of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) and four other accused had demanded Rs 25 crore bribe from actor Shah Rukh Khan for not framing his son Aryan following alleged seizure of drugs from a cruise ship.

In May this year, Wankhede approached the high court seeking to quash the case and also sought interim protection from arrest. The high court granted Wankhede interim protection from any coercive action.

On Wednesday, Wankhede’s lawyers Aabad Ponda, Rizwan Merchant and Sneha Sanap, sought permission from the court to amend the petition to include additional grounds pertaining to sections 7, 7A and 8 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Under these sections, a person who offers/gives bribe to a public servant to induce him or her and gain undue advantage shall also be prosecuted.

A division bench of Justices A S Gadkari and S G Dige permitted Wankhede to amend the plea, but said no more amendments would be permitted.

The bench posted the plea for further hearing on July 20 and said the CBI should respond to the amended plea by then.

The court extended the interim protection granted to Wankhede till July 20.

Wankhede and the other accused in the case have been booked under charges of criminal conspiracy and extortion threats under the Indian Penal Code and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act pertaining to bribery.

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Aryan Khan and several others were arrested in October 2021 for alleged possession, consumption and trafficking of drugs.

Later, Aryan Khan was granted bail by the high court after spending three weeks in jail.

The NCB subsequently filed its chargesheet, but did not name Aryan as an accused in the case citing lack of evidence.

The anti-drugs agency had then set up a special enquiry team to carry out an inquiry into the case and against its own officers.

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