Ranchi: The special PMLA court on Friday allowed the enforcement directorate (ED) additional five-day custody of suspended IAS officer Pooja Singhal in connection with the alleged irregularities in MGNREGA, mining scams and money laundering.
ED’s advocate BMP Singh said, “The court of Prabhat Kumar Sharma allowed five more days of custody as Singhal’s has not been completed. However, chartered accountant (CA) Suman Kumar’s interrogation is complete and he was sent to jail. The central agency has prayed in its petition before the court that permission is given for questioning him in jail whenever required. We will file a separate petition for interrogating Suman whenever required.”
Notably, the ED is investigating the money laundering aspects of MGNREGA scam in the Khunti district between 2006 and 2010. It carried out raids across the country against Singhal from May 6 and seized Rs 17.50 crore in cash from Suman’s residence and incriminating documents.
Kumar was arrested on May 7 and Singhal on May 11 in connection with the case. ED has already interrogated Singhal for a period of eight days and Suman for 13 days, so far.
During the hearing before the PMLA court, Singh sought six days extension of custody for Singhal while arguing that she has to be further questioned regarding the materials seized from her electronic devices, including laptops, mobile phones and servers. The advocate said she has to be confronted with the district mining officers (DMOs) in connection with the illegal mining deals and money laundering.
Earlier, the ED had sent summons to DMOs of Pakur, Dumka, and Sahebganj in connection with the case but the Sahenbganj officer had not appeared citing personal reasons. Sources said the Ranchi DMO would also be questioned in the case.
Singh also informed the court that Singhal has frequently complained of health issues leading to the suspension of the interrogation. “Under these circumstances, more time is needed to complete the exercise,” he said.
Singhal’s advocate also verbally mentioned about the media trial in the case but the court did not take cognizance. When she was brought to the court, Singhal sat inside the vehicle for a while and came out only after the media persons were pushed back.
Meanwhile, continuing to attack chief minister Hemant Soren through Twitter, BJP MP from Godda, Nishikant Dubey, said the CM had called up the then Ranchi DMO Satyajit Kumar and had applied pressure on him for allotment of the stone mine to him. Kumar resigned from service fearing he might be jailed or be murdered, Dubey claimed.

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