A civil servant of the Chhattisgarh Administrative Service (CAS), Saumya Chaurasia joined the Chief Minister’s Office after Baghel formed the state government in 2018. Saumya Chaurasia income tax raid made headlines in February 2020.
Saumya Chaurasia income tax raid in detail
The Enforcement Department (ED) has arrested Saumiya Chawurasia, deputy chief minister of Chhattisgarh Prime Minister Bhupesh Bagel, on suspicion of money laundering. An arrest was on suspicion of being in an illegal mining case worth over Rs. 150 crores.
The arrest was for money laundering case related to extorting illegal dumping of coal and mining trucks in the state. Prime Minister Bhupesh Bager described her arrest as politically motivated.
ED referenced a WhatsApp chat with Chaurasia’s custody extension request. The court placed Chaurasia, an employee of his Chhattisgarh Administration Service, in ED custody for an additional four days.
The court also extended the judicial detention of previously arrested IAS officer Samir Vishnoy, coal merchant Suriyakant Tiwari, and two others, and ordered five to be brought to court. Chaurasia’s attorney, Faizal Rizvi, dismissed the ED’s allegations. Claiming that the central agency had earlier searched the officers’ premises and found nothing. But still made baseless allegations that humiliated the officers.
IT and ED have searched the Chaurasia property numerous times and found nothing. The WhatsApp chat they are talking about was with ED and there is nothing. She has already declared the properties mentioned in her application. They are asking for custody to humiliate women,” Rizvi said.
In its application to extend Saumya Chaurasia’s custody, ED said she faced sharing confidential government information with Suryakant Tiwari via her WhatsApp.
“In response, she explained that (the information) was sent in error, and sensitive information/documents were shared intentionally. For her revealing details of all her daily activities and secrets to Tiwari”. ED said in his application.
The agency also claimed that farmland was purchased on behalf of Chaurasia’s family for cash exceeding the registered selling price. And that the source of the funds was criminal proceeds from illegal cash extortion in transporting coal.
“The unsecured loans and gifts of the Chaurasia family are criminal proceeds. Illegally generated by the abuse of power and position of the Chaurasia family. The ED has gathered ample evidence to show that Chaurasia enjoys power and influence far beyond her administrative experience and position, owing to her position in the Prime Minister’s Office,” said ED.
Investigators arrested IAS officer Samir Vishnoy and others after conducting house searches in several cities in the state. The agency had previously claimed there had been “massive fraud” in coal shipments in Chhattisgarh, with politicians, officials and other “cartels” plotting “parallel schemes to extort illegal tax collection”. And was allegedly bringing about 2-3 crores rupees a day.
“The main perpetrators of this scam were Suryakant Tiwari and his associates to extort illegal taxation on coal and run parallel systems involved in illegal and undetected cash movements,” it said.
The agency said it had seized Rs. 4.5 crores in undiscovered cash and about Rs. 2 crores worth of gold jewellery, bullion, and other valuables during the raid. The agency said Rs. 500 crores in illegal coal levies were in over the past 16 months in collusion with government officials.
It turned out that she had also evaded several crores. Baghel wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi claiming the raids were consistent with the government’s criminal investigation into corruption under the former BJP Government.