Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court today concluded the hearing on anticipatory bail petition filed by the suspended IAS officer Pradeep Sharma who has been named in a money-laundering case by the Enforcement Directorate. Justice Paresh Upadhyay reserved his order.
The High Court had on March 3 stayed Sharma's arrest. He is accused of selling a government land at a very low price to a private company -- Wellspun -- in Kutch district in 2003-2004 when he was the Collector there. His wife was allegedly made a partner in the company as a quid pro quo.
In March 2012, ED registered a case against Sharma under Prevention of Money Laundering Act. He alloted the land to Welspun at 25 per cent of the market rate which caused a loss of around Rs 1.2 crore to the state exchequer, ED says.
In return, the company made Sharma's wife a 30 per cent partner in its subsidiary Value Packaging, and extended her benefit of Rs 29.5 lakh, as per the complaint. The money was later transferred to Sharma's account, ED says, justifying the charge under PMLA.
The special PMLA court rejected Sharma's pre-arrest bail plea on February 25 after which he moved the HC.
According to Sharma, the BJP-ruled Gujarat government and ED filed a "false" case against him because his brother, IPS officer Kuldeep Sharma, was at loggerheads with the state government.
Assistant Solicitor General of India Devang Vyas argued on behalf of ED that Sharma made his wife partner in the company and within months started getting lakhs of rupees in profit, whereas his wife had not even visited India since 1999.