The Enforcement Directorate on Friday arrested Saumya Chaurasia, a deputy secretary posted in Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel's office, in connection with an alleged coal levy scam in the state.
A special court for cases under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in Raipur district subsequently sent her in the custody of the ED for four days.
Reacting sharply, Baghel described the ED's action as “political action."
The officer was produced before Additional District and Sessions Judge Ajay Singh Rajput in the evening after her arrest, said Chaurasia's lawyer Faizal Rizvi.
The ED sought her 14-day custody but the special court granted only four days' custody after hearing the arguments, he added.
The ED, while seeking her remand, mentioned an alleged land purchase by the officer which came under the purview of the Income Tax Department and she had already given clarification about this deal, advocate Rizvi said.
The ED presumed that the money used for land purchase might have come from the coal levy scam, he said.
ED lawyer Saurabh Kumar Pandey claimed that the central agency had enough evidence against Chaurasia in the case.
Chaurasia, considered a powerful bureaucrat, was arrested under the PMLA after questioning.
She was taken for a health check-up by an ED team accompanied by a CRPF escort after the arrest even as the local media followed her.
Reacting to the development, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel tweeted, “As I keep on saying, the arrest of my Deputy Secretary Soumya Chaurasia by the ED is a political action. We will fight against it with full strength”.
Baghel last week had accused the probe agency of crossing its limits and treating people inhumanely
The ED in October carried out multi-city raids in the state as part of its probe.
It arrested IAS officer Sameer Vishnoi, coal trader Suryakant Tiwari, his uncle Laxmikant Tiwari and another coal businessman Sunil Agrawal. All four are in jail in judicial custody.
The money laundering investigation was launched after the ED took cognisance of an Income Tax department complaint.
It pertained to "a massive scam in which an illegal levy of Rs 25 per tonne was being extorted for every tonne of coal transported in Chhattisgarh by a cartel involving senior bureaucrats, businessmen, politicians and middlemen", the ED has said.