IAS officer Pradeep Sharma denied bail in graft case

A local court denied bail today to suspended Gujarat cadre IAS officer Pradeep Sharma, who is behind bars in a case of allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 29 lakh, filed by the state's Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).

Additional District Judge J B Dhandhal of Bhuj court denied Sharma's bail application today while accepting the state's argument that he had misused his powers as Kutch collector for personal benefits.

On behalf of the ACB, Public Prosecutor K Goswami had opposed the bail plea and argued that Sharma had misused his power when he was posted as Kutch collector and indulged in corrupt practices for which he must be interrogated further.

Sharma's advocate Ratnakar Dholakia had argued that the alleged graft case had already been probed by the ACB and even the Gujarat High Court had granted a stay against the probe.

Sharma was arrested by the ACB on September 30 in the corruption case, for allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 29 lakh from a private company when he was the collector of Kutch in 2004.

According to the ACB complaint, he had alloted a piece of land to the company at 25 per cent of the prevailing market rate enabling illegal benefits to the company and a loss of around Rs 1.2 crore to the Gujarat state exchequer.

In return, the company allegedly made Sharma's wife, a 30 per cent partner in one of its subsidiaries called Value Packaging without any investment made by her and extended a benefit of Rs 29.5 lakh to her, as per the ACB complaint.

Sharma, who faces five corruption cases, had filed a petition in the Supreme Court alleging that he is being victimised by the Gujarat government and had sought a CBI inquiry in cases against him.

However, last month the Supreme Court rejected his application. The suspended IAS officer's name also figured in the
'Snoopgate' tapes, released by two news websites, which alleged that a woman was snooped upon in Gujarat at the behest
of the then minister of state for home Amit Shah.

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