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Texts From SRK? Here's Why Bombay HC Told Sameer Wankhede to Not Publish Them

Sameer Wankhede on his part claimed that he did not leak any chats to the press.

4 min read
Texts From SRK? Here's Why Bombay HC Told Sameer Wankhede to Not Publish Them

What do you do when none-other-than THE Shah Rukh Khan praises your integrity?

(How we imagine the text to you would look.)

Well, for starters, you do not make your chats with the actor public.

At least, if you are a former Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) officer, being investigated for a Rs 25 crore extortion case, in connection with, well, the superstar’s son. 

Sounds complicated? 

Main Hoon Na... Allow me to break it down for you.

Remember when Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan was arrested in connection with a drug case in 2021? Yes, he had to spend nearly a month in jail, only to subsequently be given a clean chit. 

Aryan Khan was arrested by the NCB during a raid on a Goa-bound cruise ship.

(Photo Courtesy: Viral Bhayani)

Cut to 2023 and Sameer Wankhede, former NCB officer, is being investigated in a bribery case filed against him on allegations that he demanded favours from papa SRK after beta Aryan’s arrest.

BUT, in order to prove that no such extortion bid occurred and to get the Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI's) FIR against him quashed, Wankhede filed a petition citing alleged chats with the Pathaan actor, and contended that SRK praised his integrity. He argued that the superstar would not have done so, if he had actually sought money from him. 

The CBI, meanwhile, took objection to Wankhede’s chats making their way to the public.

And here’s what the Bombay High Court said…

The Bombay High Court questioned Wankhede on why he made the purported chats public, while the matter was ‘sub judice’ — we will get to what this means in a bit.

Wankhede on his part claimed that he did not leak any chats to the press, and the chats accessed by the media were only those in the petition — nothing more.

Eventually, the vacation bench of Justices Abhay Ahuja and MM Sathaye did extend his interim protection, but only on condition that he won’t either publish any WhatsApp chats or give any press statement on the subject matter of the petition/probe.

But What Does the Law Say?

‘Sub judice’ is essentially Latin for ‘under judicial consideration’. In simple terms, the rule of sub judice checks the public disclosure of crucial material while it is under consideration by a court of law. The intent is to prevent any undue influence/impact on the case.

A breach of this rule may even be considered equivalent to influencing the proceedings in an ongoing case and thus, be perceived as contempt of court.

And what kind of material/information does this rule apply to?

In conversation with The Quint, Yashaswini Basu, a Bangalore-based lawyer, noted that while there are strict limitations to revealing procedural details in sexual offences, “there aren't any standard guidelines for court reporting for other matters in India yet.”

“However, numerous judgments have held that revealing sensitive information for public scrutiny about a case which is 'under judgment' runs the risk of tampering with administration of justice, and there is a risk of violation of privacy of the people involved, wherein the accused gets typecast even before the court can pronounce its judgment’.”
Yashaswini Basu

The apex court, while holding advocate Prashant Bhushan guilty in a contempt of court case, had said:

“In a sub judice matter, releasing such statement to the press in advance is an act of impropriety and has the effect of interfering with the judicial process and the fair decision making and is clearly an attempt to coerce the decision of the court…”
Supreme Court

Thus, even if Wankhede’s claim that he did not leak the chats himself is true, the court can still prospectively bar him from making any comments or leaking any conversation with the press.

Shah Rukh Khan

What does this mean for you? It means that even if you are SRK’s biggest Fan, you will still have Zero access to his chats. It also makes sense because even the Baadshah has a right to privacy – just like the rest of us in this Swades. 

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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