A special court on Monday said it could not pass blanket orders on the Narcotics Control Bureau’s (NCB) urgent plea made before it earlier in the day in the Cordelia Cruises case, which sought directions that no cognizance or action be taken on its witness Prabhakar Sail’s affidavit in which he had made serious allegations against the agency’s Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede.
Sail’s affidavit was not made before the court, but was a notarised affidavit that was widely circulated and discussed in the media. The NCB and Wankhede moved a special court on Monday, calling the allegations in his affidavit false. The NCB sought that the court pass orders so that the probe was not interfered with and without its permission, no such pleading in the case be filed. It also sought that without the court’s permission, no action be taken on the affidavit of Sail. Judge V V Patil, presiding over the special court hearing cases under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, said that considering the reliefs claimed, no such blanket orders could be passed and that it was for the concerned court or authority to pass appropriate orders at the relevant stage. The court also pointed out that the matter was sub judice before the Bombay High Court.
Wankhede, in his affidavit filed before the special court, denied all the allegations of witness Sail and called them defamatory and misleading. In an apparent reference to Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Nawab Malik, his affidavit read that after heading the cruise probe, he was being targeted by a known political figure for reasons best known to the person. He said the only reason he could fathom was that the relative of the ‘political honcho’ had been arrested in a drugs case by the NCB and had now been released on bail. From then on, he said there was personal vendetta targeted at him and he and his family members were victims of such attacks.
Wankhede further said in his affidavit that he had been threatened with arrest and dismissal from service. The officer said he was conducting an honest probe and this was not serving some vested interests. He sought that the court take cognizance of such pressures exerted on officers like him in a sub judice matter.
He stated that the case had rich and influential persons from the higher echelons of society and sought that the court pass appropriate orders to preserve the sanctity of the probe.
In its separate plea, the NCB said it was constrained to file the urgent application due to shocking developments that were detrimental to the ongoing probe. The agency said that the witness made the affidavit, which was not filed before any court, just before the hearing of bail plea of Aryan Khan was to take place in the Bombay High Court and the bail pleas of his co-accused were pending before the special court.
It too said the contents of the affidavit were false and an attempt to malign an independent agency like itself, that was working within the four corners of law. While not naming actor Shah Rukh Khan’s manager, the plea said a ‘lady’ seems to have met one of the panchas (Kiran Gosavi) and influenced him, that this was an attempt to derail the investigation. The reference was upon the claim of Sail that he had seen his employer Gosavi and one Sam enter a car with the manager. This was after he had heard extortion discussions between Gosavi and one Sam.
The agency objected to the way Sail’s affidavit was publicised and discussed. It stated that the NCB as an organisation, its officers and the zonal director have an impeccable service record of honesty and integrity.