High Court grants bail to suspended IAS officer Pradeep Sharma

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court today granted bail to suspended IAS officer Pradeep Sharma in a money laundering case being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

Suspended IAS officer Pradeep Sharma got bail today.

Justice A J Desai granted bail to Sharma after taking into account a recent Supreme Court judgement that struck down the section 45 (1) of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) as “unconstitutional”.

The section imposed certain conditions for release of an accused on bail like requiring the trial court to hear the government pleader and consider evidences against him while deciding his bail plea.

The same court had earlier stayed further proceedings against Sharma in the special PMLA court and prevented it from framing charges against him.

Sharma had filed a revision appeal in the HC after the special PMLA court rejected his discharge application.

Sharma, arrested under the PMLA and lodged at the Sabarmati Central Jail here for around a year-and-a-half, was released today.

The ED had registered an offence against Sharma on the basis of cases lodged by Gujarat CID (Crime) and the ACB for allegedly sanctioning government land at cheaper rate in 2004 to a private corporate group and its companies in Kutch district as part of a suspected quid pro quo.

He was then the Kutch collector and chairman of the District Land Evaluation and Pricing Committee. This had allegedly caused a loss of Rs 1.2 crore to the exchequer.

Against this favour, the bureaucrat had allegedly received gains to the tune of Rs 22 lakh in the name of his wife, the ED had alleged.

He allegedly transferred the money using hawala (illegal remittance system) route to his wife with the help of five persons who have also named in the ED charge sheet.

Sharma had earlier claimed he was being victimised by the BJP government in Gujarat for his knowledge of the illegal surveillance of a woman by government agencies.