The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday issued notice to state government and director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on a petition moved by former IAS officer Pradeep Sharma, seeking quashing of an FIR in a corruption case for which he was arrested on Friday, moments after he walked out of jail on bail in another case after nearly 19 months.
Justice J B Pardiwala issued the notice and sought the reply from the government. Sharma had moved the High Court through his lawyer R J Goswami, challenging the FIR against him. He has said in the petition that since 2010, at least ten FIRs have been lodged against him with “mala fide intention” and “just with a view to see that the petitioner is kept behind bars”.
According to the petition, the ACB lodged the fresh FIR at 6.15 am on Friday and Sharma was picked up by a team of 15 to 20 policemen at 10 am from the gate of Sabarmati Central Jail when he was walking out after spending 20 months in jail in an alleged money-laundering case being probed by the Enforcement Directorate.
Sharma, in his defence, has stated that the allegation against him in the fresh FIR is more than ten years old and the case is based on a statement recorded by the ED in 2014. The petition says that while he was in jail, he was not questioned even once by the ACB officials.
The fresh FIR is lodged in Bhavnagar based on a statement of Sahay Raj, Managing Director of a private shipping firm, Shoft Shipyard, recorded by the ED officials during its probe in the money-laundering case. Raj alleges in the statement that he gave Rs 25 lakh bribe to Sharma for releasing funds.
In the statement, Raj says, “During the period December 2008 to May 2009, Pradeep N Sharma was MD of Alcock Ashdown (Gujarat) Limited. During this period, he had given money to the tune of Rs 25 lakh for release of the payments from Alcock and Ashdown (Gujarat) Limited to his company. He also deposed that he had given the said amount to Saifuddin Bhuria.”
Sharma has claimed in the petition, “This FIR is filed for personal vengeance and with mala fide intention by respondent number 3 (ACB officer) at the instance of the state government.”