By Vivek Shukla
An IAS officer of Chhattisgarh cadre Ranu Sahu has been sent to judicial custody till August 4, 2023 after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) produced her before the special court of Justice Ajay Singh Rajput.
Ranu Sahu, a 2010 batch IAS officer was arrested by ED on July 22, 2023 in connection with a money laundering investigation involving an alleged coal levy scam in the state. According to reports, a day after the central organisation carried out raids at her location, she was arrested. She was found to have Rs 5.52 crore worth of immovable property.
Sahu, currently posted as the director of the state agriculture department, had served as collector of the coal-rich Korba and Raigarh districts.
“Sahu was arrested in connection with an alleged coal levy case, and produced in a court hearing Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) cases here to seek her custody,” ED's lawyer Saurabh Pandey said.
Her premises were raided earlier as well and her assets were attached by the ED as part of its probe into the alleged coal levy case.
Sahu's attorney, Faizal Rizvi claimed that she was detained on totally fabricated charges.
“From October of last year to January of this year, she had always cooperated with agency in the alleged coal levy case and showed up whenever she was called. She was never called by the ED after January,” he said.
Faizal said that the properties which have been seized by ED belonged to her parents. He said that ED claims that the profits of crime were from 2020, these properties date from before 2019. No connection could be established between properties and the alleged money from the coal scam,” Rizvi said.
An IAS and a PCS officer also behind bars
Ranu Sahu is the second IAS officer in the state to be arrested in the case after Sameer Bishnoi, who is lodged in Raipur Central jail since October 2022.
Bishnoi, a 2009 batch IAS officer was arrested on October 13, 2022 along with two businessmen. The ED then had found a cash of Rs 47 lakh and four kg of gold and bullion from the premises of Bishnoi. Like Sahu, Bishnoi had also been collector of Korba and Raipur. At the time of arrest, he was posted as of Chhattisgarh Infotech Promotion Society (CHiPS) and managing director of Chhatisgarh State Coopertaive Marketing Federation (Markfed).
One more officer from state public service Saumya Chaurasia, who was deputy secretary to the chief minister Bhupesh Baghel was also arrested by ED last year and has been in judicial custody since then. The ED has attached 51 properties, including eight Benami immovable assets worth Rs 7.57 crore of Saumya Chaurasia in the case.
All the three officers arrested so far in the case had been close to the chief minister Baghel.
Who is IAS Ranu Sahu
Ranu Sahu was born in a small village called Panuka in Gariaband district of Chhattisgarh. She belongs to a family with political background. Though her father is a retired government teacher her mother Lakshmi Sahu is a member of panchayat. Her Shailendra Sahu is a Congress leader from his area.
Before clearing Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) examination in 2010, Sahu a science graduate had been serving as Deputy SP in state police services since 2005.
She is married to Jai Prakash Maurya, who is also an IAS officer of the 2010 batch and is serving as special secretary in mines and geology department since June 2021.
What is Coal levy Scam
The coal levy scam is an alleged case of illegal extortion of money from coal transporters in Chhattisgarh by a cartel of bureaucrats, businessmen, politicians and middlemen.
The scam involved a cartel that was allegedly extorting an illegal levy of Rs 25 per tonne of coal transported in the state. The cartel allegedly had links with senior officials of the state government, including collectors, directors and managing directors of various departments.
The cartel also allegedly had influence over the local police and administration to ensure the smooth functioning of the scam. The ED estimates that the scam could be worth over Rs 800 crore.
Before mining officers used to give delivery orders to transporter online, which was transparent and effective mechanism. However, during 2020, officers citing server problem discontinued handing over online delivery orders to transporters. Mining orders would give physical delivery order only when transporters would pay Rs 25 perf tonne as levy.