Suspended Gujarat IAS officer Pradeep Sharma sent to judicial custody



Suspended Gujarat-cadre IAS officer Pradeep Sharma was today sent to judicial custody after a special PMLA court refused to extend his remand with the Enforcement Directorate, which is investigating a money laundering case against him.

The ED had arrested Sharma on August 1 in connection with the money laundering case after he failed to reveal the “true facts” regarding the accounts maintained abroad by him or his family members.

Sharma was arrested under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, days after the Supreme Court vacated an interim stay on his arrest.

PMLA court judge A C Joshi had earlier sent him to one-week ED remand.

Today, when he was produced in the court, the ED sought extension of the custody by one more week for questioning. However, the plea was turned down by the court and Sharma was sent to judicial custody.

The agency had sought Sharma’s remand, claiming that he was not cooperating with the investigators and therefore his custodial interrogation was necessary.

Sharma, a 1984-batch IAS officer who had been at loggerheads at the erstwhile Gujarat government headed by then chief minister Narendra Modi, was summoned to the ED office here and was arrested last Monday.

The case pertains to the sanction of government land in Bhuj for industrial use to Ms Welspun India Limited and its group companies, Welspun Power and Steel and Welspun Gujarat Style Roharan, as part of a suspected quid pro quo.

Sharma sanctioned land to the company in 2004 when he was the collector and chairman of the District Land Evaluation and Pricing Committee, which allegedly caused loss to the government exchequer to the tune of Rs 1.2 crore.

“Against this favour, he has received gain to the tune of Rs 22 lakh in the name of his wife Shyamal P Sharma within a short period of 15 months by just investing Rs 1 lakh (in January 2008) in one Ms Value Packaging,” the ED probe report stated.

Sharma was earlier arrested by the ACB in 2014 in connection with a graft case when he was Bhavnagar Municipal Commissioner. He had approached the Supreme Court in 2013 seeking to take cognisance of the audio tapes related to alleged illegal snooping of a young woman architect under then Modi government in state.

Two investigative news portals had claimed on November 15, 2013 that a senior BJP leader had ordered illegal surveillance of the woman at the behest of one “Saheb”.

In his petition before SC, Sharma had alleged victimisation by the then Modi government, and had sought a CBI inquiry into the cases against him. However, the Supreme Court had rejected his application.