SC defers hearing on bail plea of suspended IAS officer Pooja Singhal’s to Dec 1

The Supreme Court on Tuesday deferred till December 1 the hearing of the bail plea of suspended Jharkhand cadre IAS officer Pooja Singhal, an accused in a money laundering case.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice SK Kaul adjourned the matter after noting that three crucial witnesses, who have worked under Singhal, are to be examined on November 23.

The top court asked the trial court to endeavour that the testimony of the witnesses is completed that day itself.

Senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for Singhal, submitted he was not pressing for interim bail at this stage in view of Singhal’s medical report.

Additional Solicitor General SV Raju told the court that Singhal’s condition is stable.

The top court had earlier asked Singhal whether the allegation of breach of her privacy during treatment at a hospital could be a ground to grant her bail.

Luthra had told the court her privacy was breached when photographs of her room were leaked while she was undergoing treatment at a hospital in Ranchi.

“My client has been in custody for over 200 days and she is in judicial custody. She was taken to hospital for some ailment and while she was meeting her family members, the pictures were taken and leaked to the media. One newspaper published it. This is a breach of her privacy,” Luthra had said.

Justice Kaul had maintained the allegations against her are “very serious” and the court cannot consider granting her bail at this juncture.

On February 10, the top court had granted Singhal interim bail for two months to enable her to take care of her ailing daughter.

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Singhal has been in custody since May 11, 2022 after raids were conducted at properties linked to her in connection with the money laundering case being probed by the Enforcement Directorate. The case relates to alleged corruption in the implementation of MGNREGA, the Centre’s flagship scheme for rural employment.

The ED has accused Singhal, a former state mines department secretary, of money laundering and said its team seized more than Rs 36 crore cash linked to alleged illegal mining as part of two separate money laundering investigations.

Apart from the 2000-batch IAS officer, her businessman husband, a chartered accountant associated with the couple, and others were also raided by the ED as part of the probe.

Singhal was suspended following her arrest.

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