Suspended IAS officer Pradeep Sharma arrested by ACB in Welspun graft case

Written by PTI | Ahmedabad | Updated: Sep 30 2014, 19:43pm hrs
Suspended IPS officer Pradeep Sharma, who had been at loggerheads with the erstwhile Gujarat government headed by Narendra Modi, was today arrested by the state Anti-Corruption Bureau here in a corruption case.

"Sharma has been arrested by us today morning under the Prevention of Corruption Act. As per the complaint registered by us yesterday, Sharma allegedly received Rs 29 lakhs from private firm Welspun. The amount was first deposited in the account of Sharma's wife, and then transferred to his account," ACB Director (in-charge) Ashish Bhatia said.

"This is a case of allegedly taking bribe for extending benefits to a company when he was Collector of Kutch," Bhatia said.

Pradeep Sharma and his brother and IPS officer Kuldeep Sharma (now retired) were at loggerheads with the erstwhile state government headed by Modi.

The suspended IAS officer's name had also figured in the snoopgate tapes released by two portals, which alleged that a woman was snooped in Gujarat at the behest of then Minister of State for Home Amit Shah.

Sharma has been booked under Prevention of Corruption Act sections 11 (public servant obtaining valuable gift from person concerned in proceedings or business transacted by such public servant), 13(1)(D) (to obtain valuable things by corrupt or illegal means) and 13(2) (criminal misconduct by public servant).

The case pertains to 2004, when Sharma was the Collector of Kutch.

As per the complaint, he had allegedly allotted land to Welspun at 25 per cent of the prevailing market rates which gave illegal benefits to the company and loss of around Rs 1.2 crore to the state exchequer.

In return, the Welspun company allegedly made Sharma's wife a 30 per cent partner in one of its subsidiary Value Packaging without any investment on her part, and extended benefits of Rs 29.5 lakhs to her, according to the complaint.

"The money was first deposited in the account of Sharma's wife and then transferred to his account," it further said.

The Enforcement Directorate had also registered a case yesterday and seized Sharma's property under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The ED had seized a piece of land in Dehgam village of Gandhinagar district and a portion of his bungalow in the state capital, the value of which is around Rs one crore.

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

However, last month the Supreme Court had rejected his application.