The Gujarat High Court granted bail to former Surat BJP vice-president PVS Sarma on Thursday in a case involving alleged forgery of circulation figures of newspapers owned by him in order to defraud the government and advertising agencies.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) charged him with violating the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Sarma, who is currently being held in Surat’s Lajpor Central Jail, was granted bail by the Gujarat High Court in March in relation to a FIR filed in November 2020 by the deputy director of the Investigation wing of the Income Tax (IT) department Surat against Sarma and another director, Sitaram Adukiya, facing accusations of amassing excessive assets and evading taxes by forgery, cheating, and criminal conspiracy.
According to a source, with relief granted in both complaints, Sarma is now scheduled to be released from prison on Friday.
Sarma allegedly lied about the circulation figures of a Gujarati newspaper and an English newspaper published by Sanket Media, claiming that they were 23,500 and 6,000 – 6,300 copies, respectively, in order to obtain advertising.
In March 2019, Sarma was named as one of the directors of Sanket Media Pvt Ltd.
The IT department’s investigation wing discovered that the real circulation figure for the Gujarati newspaper was 300-600 copies and 0-290 copies for the English daily.
Sarma allegedly obtained advertising from government and private agencies worth Rs. 2.70 crore by using fictitious figures and forged documents.
The ED also accused Sarma of inflating the circulation figures of his newspaper, Satyam Times, which is published in English and Gujarati under the banner of Sanket Media Pvt Ltd, in order to obtain advertising.
The ED had arrested him under the PMLA on November 26, 2020.