Coalscam: Ex-Coal Secy awarded two year imprisonment

NEW DELHI
22 May 2017

Former Coal Secretary H C Gupta and two serving senior officials were today sentenced to two year imprisonment by a special court for irregularities in the allocation of a coal block in Madhya Pradesh to a private firm.
The court also imposed a fine of Rs one crore on Madhya Pradesh based Kamal Sponge Steel and Power Ltd (KSSPL), which was the beneficiary of the allocation of Thesgora-B/Rudrapuri coal block in the state.
Its Managing Director Pawan Kumar Ahluwalia was awarded three-year jail term by the court for misrepresenting facts in its application before the Ministry of Coal (MOC), which was then headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Besides Gupta, who was the Coal Secretary from December 31, 2005 to November 2008, then joint secretary K S Kropha and then director K C Samaria in the MOC were handed down the punishment for cheating, criminal conspiracy and corruption.
They became the first public servants to be convicted and sentenced for the coal block allocation scam, unearthed during the previous UPA regime.
Besides the jail term, Special CBI Judge Bharat Parasher also imposed a fine of Rs one lakh each on the three bureaucrats in the case.
Ahluwalia, KSSPL Managing Director, who has been sentenced to a three-year jail term, has also been directed to pay a fine of Rs 30 lakh.
While holding them guilty of multiple offences, the court said Gupta, Kropha and Samria had entered into a "criminal conspiracy" with KSSPL and Ahluwalia to commit "criminal misconduct " for procuring coal block allotment in favour of KSSPL.
All the convicts were, however, granted bail on a personal bond of Rs one lakh and one surety of like amount soon after the sentence was announced, to enable them move the High Court challenging the trial court verdict.
The court had on May 19 convicted all the five but acquitted the Chartered Accountant Amit Goyal in the case.
It noted that Gupta made "dishonest misrepresentation" before the then Prime Minister, who had retained the Coal Ministry portfolio.
The court said Singh, who had to act only upon the recommendations of the Screening Committee of which Gupta was the chairman, had no reason to presume that the then Coal Secretary had recommended a non-compliant firm for coal block allocation.
CBI had in October 2012 lodged an FIR in the matter, but on March 27, 2014, it had filed a closure report in the case.
The court had rejected the closure report on October 13, 2014 and summoned Gupta and others as accused.
The CBI had alleged that the firm had misrepresented its net worth and the existing capacity, adding that the state government had also not recommended the firm for the allocation of any coal block.
The court had on October 14 last year framed charges against the accused.
As many as ten more coal cases are pending against Gupta and the proceedings are going on individually. The Supreme Court had last year dismissed his plea seeking a joint trial in all these cases. (PTI)