The Bombay High Court on Tuesday said that Nationalist Congress Party leader Nawab Malik had “willfully breached” an undertaking to not comment about Narcotics Control Bureau officer Sameer Wankhede and his family, Live Law reported.
The court asked Malik to explain why action should not be taken against him for the breach. Malik was asked to file an affidavit by Friday.
Senior counsel Birendra Saraf had sought an urgent hearing of the matter, PTI reported. He claimed before the Bombay High Court on Tuesday that despite the undertaking, Malik had made defamatory comments about the NCB officer and his family in an interview to a newspaper.
But Malik’s lawyer told the court that he had spoken to the newspaper as the Nationalist Congress Party spokesperson and not in his personal capacity, PTI reported.
However, the court observed that the interview was a breach of Malik’s undertaking,
“This is impinging on our order,” the High Court said, according to PTI. “He [Malik] is over-reaching our order. Before we take any action against the respondent, we direct him to file his affidavit setting out as to why action should not be taken against him for willful breach of statements/undertaking.”
The Maharashtra minister had made several accusations of misconduct against Wankhede, who led the investigation into a drugs case involving actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan.
On November 5, the inquiry was transferred from the Narcotics Control Bureau’s Mumbai zonal unit headed by Sameer Wankhede to its operations unit based in Delhi.
Malik alleged that Wankhede was part of a Bharatiya Janata Party leader’s plan to kidnap Aryan Khan. He had also accused the officer of using forged documents to get his job under the Scheduled Caste quota, often bringing up the names of his family members.
Sameer Wankhede’s father Dhyandev Wankhede filed a defamation case against Malik in the Bombay High Court in November. He said that Malik’s defamatory comments about his son, made through press releases, interviews and on Twitter, had damaged his family’s reputation.
The single-judge bench of the Bombay High Court had asked Nawab to first verify the accusations that before going public, but had refused to stop him from making statements about Wankhede and his family.
“Although plaintiff has right to privacy, the defendant has right to freedom of speech and expression, there has to be balancing of fundamental rights,” the court had said.
Wankhede’s father, then, appealed to a division bench of the High Court against the order of the single-judge bench.
At that hearing on November 25, the division bench asked Malik for an assurance that he will not make statements about Wankhede and his family till December 9, which had then been set as the next date of hearing. Malik gave an undertaking to the court.