Why are you shying away from question on whether you want to arrest Sameer Wankhede? Bombay High Court to CBI

The Court was miffed when the CBI refused to clearly answer queries on whether it has plans to arrest Wankhede in the bribery case lodged against him for allegedly demanding bribes from actor Shah Rukh Khan.
Sameer Wankhede with Bombay High Court
Sameer Wankhede with Bombay High Court

The Bombay High Court today expressed displeasure over the failure of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to give a clear answer to the Court's queries on whether it would be arresting India Revenue Service (IRS) officer Sameer Wankhede in the bribery case lodged against him.

A division bench of Justices AS Gadkari and SG Dige was hearing a plea by the agency to vacate an interim protection order granted in Wankhede's favour on May 19, this year.

The apparent reluctance of the CBI's counsel to answer the Court's queries on this aspect led the bench to orally remark,

"You are a prime investigating agency. Why are you playing hide and seek? Why are you shying away from saying whether you want to arrest him or not?"

The Court noted that since the CBI had issued a notice under Section 41A of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), there was no question of arresting Wankhede.

The Court then asked the agency to inform whether they had any intention of arresting Wankhede. The Court suggested that if the CBI intended to make the arrest, it could give 48 hours' notice.

The CBI's counsel, Kuldeep Patil responded by submitting that Wankhede could approach for anticipatory bail in the sessions court.

However, the bench was not pleased that the counsel was refusing to give a clear answer and asked why the agency was shying away from the question.

"You give notice that you will give 48 hours before arresting. We will relegate him to sessions court, " the Court added.

Patil, however, maintained that he was merely asking the Court to not injunct the agency from taking any action they deemed fit for the investigation.

The Court, at this point, called for the case diary of the investigation.

"You show us that the stage of arrest has reached from the documents. Let us see the facts," the Court said.

Patil said that he would be able to place the diary on record only on Monday.

"The insistence to not make a statement (that you don't want to arrest him) is raising serious doubts. How do we know you are maintaining the diary properly? You have three days. It may be loosely maintained diary," the bench retorted.

The CBI has registered a criminal case against Wankhede for allegedly demanding a bribe of ₹25 crores from Bollywood actor, Shah Rukh Khan in exchange for not framing his son, Aryan Khan in the 2021 Cordelia cruise ship drugs case.

Wankhede was booked for offences under Sections 7 (bribery), 7A (undue advantage to influence public servant by illegal means) and 12 (abetment) of the Prevention of Corruption Act along with Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 388 (extortion) of the Indian Penal Code.

The High Court later granted interim protection to him after he approached the High Court seeking to quash of the first information report (FIR) filed against him.

The CBI has maintained that it obtained the necessary sanction (from the Home Ministry) for initiating action under Section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption Act against a Wankhede, being a public servant.

Wankhede has challenged this sanction through an amendment in his plea. He claimed has that the prior sanction, which CBI claimed to have obtained, was bad in law and lacked jurisdiction. 

Bar and Bench - Indian Legal news