The Supreme Court on Friday granted interim bail for a period of two months to suspended Jharkhand cadre IAS officer Pooja Singhal in a money laundering case to enable her to look after her ailing daughter.
The order was passed by a bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul while hearing Singhal’s appeal against the Jharkhand High Court order dismissing her bail plea in relation to the Enforcement Directorate’s probe arising from alleged corruption in the MGNREGA scheme.
“We are inclined to grant interim bail to the petitioner for the purposes of attending to her daughter for a period of two months from the date of release,” said the bench also comprising Justice Manoj Misra.
The court directed Singhal, represented by senior advocate Sidharth Luthra, to not influence the witnesses, as alleged by the agency, and not visit Jharkhand except for attending court hearings.
The counsel for the agency argued during the hearing that Singhal’s daughter was being “medically managed” and her husband – the girl’s stepfather — was there to look after her and there were “serious apprehensions” with respect to the accused influencing witnesses if released.
The top court had earlier granted interim bail for a certain period to the official in the matter in January while asking the ED to respond to her bail plea.
Singhal has been in custody since May 11, 2022 after raids were conducted at properties linked to her.
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.
Earlier, the top court sought the probe agency’s response on Singhal’s interim bail plea on the ground of the ill health of her daughter.
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 money laundering probe.
Singhal was suspended by the state government following her arrest.
Suman Kumar, a chartered accountant linked to Singhal and her husband, was also arrested by the agency and cash totalling Rs 19.76 crore was seized from him.