Ex-IAS officer Pradeep Sharma held in fresh case of land allotment from his tenure as Kutch collector

Several cases of corruption were brought against ex-IAS officer Pradeep Sharma between 2003 and 2006; he was also arrested in a money laundering case being probed by the Enforcement Directorate.

March 05, 2023 05:43 pm | Updated 05:43 pm IST - Bhuj

Gujarat High Court

Gujarat High Court | Photo Credit: Vijay Soneji

The Gujarat CID on March 3, 2023 arrested former IAS officer Pradeep Sharma for allegedly causing loss to the state exchequer by illegally allotting land at an undervalued price in 2004-05 during his tenure as the Collector of Kutch district, official said.

A first information report (FIR) was registered on March 3, 2023 against Sharma, A 1984-batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, and two others at CID (Crime) border zone police station at Bhuj in Kutch district, Deputy Superintendent of Police (CID Crime) V.K. Nai said.

"Sharma was detained from Gandhinagar and arrested on Sunday morning," he said.

At the time of his arrest, Mr. Sharma was out on bail in previous cases.

Mr. Sharma, who had claimed in the past that he was victimised by the then-Narendra Modi government in Gujarat, was booked on charges of criminal breach of trust and criminal conspiracy in this fresh case of land allotment at Chudva village in Gandhidham taluka of Kutch district.

The FIR says that he allotted the government land allegedly at a much lower price by misusing his power as the collector and ignoring the government's provisions of determining valuation, thereby causing loss to the State exchequer. The case deals with the land allocation between November 2004 and May 2005.

Mr. Sharma allegedly entered into a criminal conspiracy with the then resident Deputy Collector and the Bhuj town planner, who have also been named as accused in the case, it says.

Mr. Sharma, who was the collector of Kutch between 2003 and 2006, has several cases of corruption against him, and was also arrested in a money laundering case being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

In September 2014, Mr. Sharma was arrested by the State's Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB) on the charge of receiving a bribe of ₹29 lakh from a business group. As per the complaint, he had allotted a land in 2004 to the group at 25% of the prevailing market rate, which resulted in a loss of around ₹1.2 crore to the state exchequer. In return, the company allegedly gave Mr. Sharma's wife 30% share in one of its subsidiaries without her having made any investment and extended benefits of ₹29.5 lakh to her.

The Supreme Court had earlier rejected his application for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the cases against him.

Mr. Sharma's name had figured in the so-called snoopgate tapes released in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls by two private portals regarding surveillance on a female architect in Ahmedabad. The portals 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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