The Bombay High Court on Monday asked Nationalist Congress Party leader Nawab Malik to reply to a defamation suit filed by the father of Narcotics Control Bureau zonal director Sameer Wankhede, reported Bar and Bench.
In the past few days, Malik has levelled a number of allegations against Sameer Wankhede, who had been investigating the Mumbai cruise ship drug case involving actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan until November 5.
He accused the Narcotics Control Bureau officer of being part of an extortion racket linked to drug cases against Bollywood actors. On Sunday, Malik also alleged that Wankhede was part of a plan made by a Bharatiya Janata Party leader to kidnap Aryan Khan.
In his lawsuit, Sameer Wankhede’s father, Dhyandev Wankhede, has sought Rs 1.25 crore in damages. He claimed that Malik, through press releases, interviews and Twitter, has made “tortious and defamatory remarks” against his son.
During Monday’s hearing, advocate Arshad Shaikh, appearing for Dhyandev Wankhede, sought a statement from Malik that he will not put up anything defamatory till the matter is being heard in the High Court.
“Everyday something or the other is posted hence I am here,” Shaikh said. “Today morning only Malik put a tweet supposedly about Sameer Wankhede’s sister-in-law.”
Earlier in the day, Malik had questioned Wankhede’s sister-in-law’s involvement in a drugs case. “You must answer because her case is pending before the Pune court,” the minister said in a tweet, sharing screenshots of the case details.
Senior advocate Atul Damle, representing Malik, said he has not received any instructions from his client to give such an undertaking in the court.
He also questioned the maintainability of the suit, saying that it has been field by the petitioner to raise grievances on behalf of his son and daughter. Damle then sought two-three more days to file an affidavit.
However, a vacation bench of Justice Madhav Jamdar refused to accept Damle’s request and asked him to respond to the suit by Tuesday. “If you can give reply on Twitter, then you better reply here also,” the judge said.
The matter will be again heard on Wednesday.
In his suit, Dhyandev Wankhede has claimed that Malik’s comments caused “irreparable loss, damage, harm, prejudice to the name, character, reputation and societal image of plaintiff and his family members”.
Dhyandev Wankhede’s counsel told the Bombay High Court that the defamatory comments against his client’s son started when Malik’s son-in-law, Sameer Khan, was arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau in January for allegedly trading drugs.
The counsel also said the legal practice of Wankhede’s daughter Yasmin has been adversely affected because of Malik’s claims of the family being a fraud and his questioning of their religious beliefs.
The Aryan Khan case
Aryan Khan and seven others had been detained by a team of Narcotics Control Bureau, led by Sameer Wankhede, after a raid on a cruise ship off the coast of Mumbai on October 2. During the raid, the agency claimed to have seized 13 grams of cocaine, 5 grams of mephedrone, 21 grams of charas, 22 pills of MDMA (ecstasy) and Rs 1.3 lakh from the ship.
No drugs were recovered from Aryan Khan. But, investigators have alleged that he is part of a larger conspiracy to procure drugs from an international network. The 23-year-old spent over three weeks in prison before getting bail in the case on October 28.
On November 5, a Special Investigation Team of the Narcotics Control Bureau, supervised by Sanjay Kumar Singh, deputy director general of the agency’s headquarters in Delhi, took over the investigation into the drugs case from Wankhede.