Mumbai: Aryan Khan's lawyer told the Bombay High Court on Wednesday his arrest in the drugs-on-cruise case was a direct infringement of constitutional guarantees and the counsel of a co-accused claimed conspiracy charge was invoked as an afterthought.
The jail stay of Aryan Khan (23), son of Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, got longer as the hearing on his bail application remained inconclusive for the second day and proceedings in the HC will resume on Thursday.
Aryan Khan, arrested in the drugs case earlier this month, is in judicial custody for nearly three weeks now.
Probe against Sameer Wankhede
Meanwhile an NCB team began probe into allegations of extortion linked to the case against agency officials, including its zonal director in Mumbai Sameer Wankhede.
Narcotic Control Bureau (NCB) Deputy Director General-northern region Gyaneshwar Singh said his team recorded the statement of Wankhede for more than four hours as part of a vigilance probe into allegations of extortion in the drugs case, while the controversy surrounding the IRS officer took a new turn when the qazi who performed his first marriage in 2006 said he was a Muslim at that time, a claim denied by his family.
A five-member vigilance probe team, which landed in Mumbai in the morning, has started its probe and collected some documents and recordings NCB office at Ballard Estate in south Mumbai, DDG Gyaneshwar Singh, who is heading the departmental probe into the allegations of extortion, told media persons.
"The team today collected crucial documents of the case from NCB zonal office and as part of the investigation, we recorded the statement of Wankhede," Singh said.
"During the four-and-a-half-hour-long recording of the statement, Wankhede has put many things before the team and we will collect a few more documents from him in coming days and if required we will get more information from him," he said.
Asked whether Wankhede will continue to supervise the investigation into the cruise drugs case, Singh said, "Let the investigation go ahead, if I have something concrete then only I will be able to give report to my DG."
"I am appealing to K P Gosavi and Prabhakar Sail (NCB witnesses in the drugs case) through the media to join the enquiry," he said, adding, "If they have any complaint... any allegations, they should approach us and record their statements."
The controversy gets murkier
The qazi who had performed the first marriage of Wankhede claimed the officer belonged to a Muslim family otherwise the 'nikah' would not have been solemnised as per Islam.
The qazi's claim came against the backdrop of Nawab Malik's allegations that Wankhede was born as a Muslim, but forged documents, including a caste certificate, to show he belonged to the Hindu SC category to get a job under quota after clearing the UPSC examination.
"I had performed the 'nikah' of Sameer Wankhede and Shabana Qureshi (his first wife). Her father had approached me to perform the marriage in the Lokhandwala complex area of Mumbai. The groom's name was Sameer Dawood Wankhede who married Shabana Qureshi," Maulana Mujammil Ahmed told a news channel.
When asked about Wankhede's claim that he is a Hindu, the qazi said had Wankhede been a Hindu the 'nikah' would not have been performed. The Maulana claimed all the witnesses had signed the 'nikahnama' as per Islamic customs.
As the controversy over his marriage and religion refused to die down, Wankhede, who is in the eye of a political storm following allegations of extortion in the high-profile cruise drugs case, said he had married (in 2006) as per Muslim customs as per the wish of his late mother.
"Fulfilling the wish of one's mother in a secular country is not a crime. I am proud of secularism in our country. My mother was a Muslim and my father is a Hindu. I love both of them very much, " Wankhede told PTI.
Wankhede asserted that he never converted to Islam and he belonged to a Hindu caste. He said his first marriage was registered under the Special Marriage Act within a month.
"The process of divorce was also completed as per the Special Marriage Act. I was never converted to Islam and I belong to a Hindu caste of my family," Wankhede claimed.
Wankhedes slam Nawab Malik
Meanwhile, Wankhede's father once again refuted allegations of Nawab Malik about his religion. Malik had said Wankhede senior's real name is Dawood Wankhede and not Dnyandev Wankhede.
Kranti Redkar, whom Wankhede married after divorce from his first wife, also came out in support of her husband, saying he never changed his religion. Redkar, who is an actress, contested the claim made by the qazi.
Addressing a press conference, Redkar, who married Wankhede in 2017, slammed Malik for playing "low level" politics by making a string of allegations against her husband.
"Is that qazi above the Constitution? He should produce papers to show Sameer Wankhede had converted (to Islam) to marry his first wife," Redkar said, adding Wankhede had performed the 'nikah' in 2006 only to fulfil the wish of his late mother, who was Muslim.
"It was just a formality. Sameer (Wankhede) is born as a Hindu. He never converted. Malik is levelling allegations out of his grudge owing to the (drugs) case involving his son-in-law," she claimed.
Redkar admitted that the signature on the 2006 nikahnama was of Sameer Wankhede's.
"He doesn't know much about nikahnama (a written document that two Muslim partners entering into a civil union must put their signature on to legalise their marriage)," she claimed.
Meanwhile, Wankhede's father Dnyandev Wankhede said he would approach the court against Malik.
"What do my religion or castes have to do with the drug cases? I am Hindu and Mahar (Scheduled Caste). The 2006 Nikahnama is correct and my signature is also genuine. But I didn't understand the content of the document since it was in Urdu," he told reporters.
Malik attacks BJP
Speaking separately, Malik, who has repeatedly termed the cruise drug bust case as "fake" and levelled a string of allegations against Wankhede, hit out at the BJP.
"I wonder why BJP leaders are getting uncomfortable when I am trying to expose Sameer Wankhede," he said.
On Wednesday, the minister said, The Cordelia cruise drugs party organisers Fashion TV had not taken any permission from the Maharashtra Police or the state home department. They obtained the permission directly from the directorate of shipping, which comes under the Union Ministry for Ports, Shipping and Waterways.
"I believe that a top committee of NCB officials from Delhi has arrived here. They should check the call detail records of personal phones of NCB zonal director Sameer Wankhede, (witnesses) K P Gosavi, Prabhakar Sail and Wankhede's driver Mane. You will need no recording of statements. The phone calls will be self-explanatory," he said.
The minister claimed a member of an international drugs mafia was present on the same cruise.
"There are some of videos of the party in which the person, sporting a beard, can been seen. I am told he was in the Tihar Jail (Delhi) and in a Rajasthan jail in the past. The NCB's Delhi team should check the CCTV cameras of the cruise. How come a few people were arrested and the international level drugs mafia (member) is moving scot-free?," he asked.