Suspended IAS officer Pradeep Sharma denied pre-arrest bail

Ahmedabad: A special court for Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) cases today rejected the pre-arrest bail application of suspended IAS officer Pradeep Sharma.

Principal district judge S C Srivastava rejected his anticipatory bail plea, observing that there was a prima-facie case against Sharma. The court also said that Sharma, who is an IAS officer, could influence the probe.

The Special Public Prosecutor for Enforcement Directorate Rajesh Kanani earlier argued that Sharma had granted some favours to a Kutch-based private company by selling the land at very low rate. Sharma's lawyer, advocate Dinesh Patel, argued that ED filed the case after a delay of more than ten years.

It had never demanded Sharma's custody when he was in the custody of Gujarat anti-corruption bureau, he added. In March 2012, ED registered a case against Sharma for allegedly selling government land at cheaper rate to Kutch- based Welspun Group when he was the District Collector in 2003-04.

He alloted land at 25 per cent of the market rate, which caused a loss of Rs 1.2 crore to the state exchequer, it said. In return, the company made Sharma's wife 30 per cent partner in one of its subsidiaries, Value Packaging, and extended her a benefit of Rs 29.5 lakh, it said.

The state CID as well as ACB have filed separate FIRs against him in the same case. Sharma was arrested by ACB on September 30 last year. A Bhuj court granted him bail on January 29 this year.

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