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Backstage: Chipping away at the pyramid

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Few would expect a doctor to become a police officer, let alone handle investigations related to stock market manipulation. But that’s precisely what Pradnya Saravade, an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the 1989 batch, has done — she joined Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) last year, as an officer on special duty after Sebi decided to separate its investigation and adjudication departments.

Saravade used trading data from the stock exchanges to establish the manipulation in share prices of Pyramid Saimira. She was also able to create a cash trail using bank account transaction details. Sebi’s 54-page order last week shows that Sarvade also got detailed phone call records to prove her case. Eventually, this led to an order which barred Pyramid Saimira’s promoters Nirmal Kotecha and P S Saminathan, along with 228 others, from the securities market.

While the Maharashtra-cadre officer refused to speak to Business Standard, according to information posted on the website of her husband — Nandkumar Sarvade, a former IPS officer — the 44-year-old is a post-graduate in General Surgery from Mumbai’s Grant Medical College. But she decided against becoming a surgeon and instead chose to “have more fun” by joining the police service. “It may be mentioned here that at the time of the decision, we were already married and I can claim to have made a significant contribution to her decision!” says the post on the website. Though her husband was in the Maharashtra cadre, Saravade did her field duty in West Bengal’s 24 Pargana district. After stints in West Bengal’s intelligence branch and in airport security in Kolkata, she moved to her home state with most of her postings in Mumbai.

Saravade is not new to the capital markets and economic fraud. During her stint at the Central Bureau of Investigation’s Bank Securities and Fraud Cell, she had handled the investigation and trial of the 1992 securities scam. She has also been associated with the Cyber Crime Investigation Cell at Mumbai. In the crime branch, she dealt with preventive law enforcement. She has also had her share of controversies. During her stint at the state’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), she handled extortion-related cases involving Mumbai’s encounter specialist Daya Nayak. The other controversial case was that of the Maharashtra Public Service Commission.

Former Maharashtra Director General of Police P S Pasricha, however, is all praise for her stint at the ACB.

Maharashtra’s DIG Prison and a former colleague Rajnish Seth says, “She has the right aptitude for detection of economic offences and her previous postings have helped her gain sound knowledge to deal with economic crimes.”

In the past, Sebi has often been criticised for preparing weak cases which were overturned by the Securities Appellate Tribunal. It remains to be seen if the same fate awaits Sarvade’s investigation.

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