New Delhi, December 3: A Delhi court Monday said it would pronounce on December 5 the sentencing of former coal secretary H C Gupta and others, including a retired and a serving bureaucrat, convicted for irregularities in the allotment of coal blocks in West Bengal to a private firm. The court had on November 30 convicted Gupta, former joint secretary in Ministry of Coal K S Kropha and the then director (CA-I) in the ministry K C Samria. The court also convicted the firm, Vikash Metals and Power Limited, its managing director Vikash Patni and its authorised signatory Anand Mallick.
Special Judge Bharat Parashar concluded hearing on arguments Monday on the quantum of punishment. The CBI sought a maximum of seven years imprisonment for the five convicted persons and imposition of heavy fine on the private firm. The counsel for Gupta and four other convicted persons sought a lenient sentence. Coal Scam: Delhi Court Grants Bail to Naveen Jindal and 14 Others in Money Laundering Case.
Gupta's counsel pleaded that he was 70 years old and suffering from various ailments. He only had his pension to support his family, the lawyer said. The case pertains to alleged irregularities in the allocation of Moira and Madhujore (North and South) coal blocks in West Bengal to VMPL. In September 2012, the CBI registered an FIR in the case. Gupta, who was the Coal Secretary from December 31, 2005 to November 2008, has already been convicted before this in two other cases of coal block allocation in which he had been sentenced to jail for two and three years respectively. He is out on bail in both the cases.
Kropha, who was then the Joint Secretary, Ministry of coal, retired in December 2017 as the Chief Secretary of Meghalaya. He has also been convicted and sentenced to two years in another coal block allocation scam and has been on bail. Samria then held the rank of Director in the Ministry of coal and is now working as a Joint Secretary in Ministry of Minority Affairs. He has already been convicted and sentenced to two years jail term in another case and has been out on bail. All the convicted persons were taken into judicial custody on the order of the court.
All have been held guilty for the offences under Prevention of Corruption Act and IPC, including sections 420 (cheating) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy).
Gupta has been accused in 12 cases of alleged irregularities in coal block allocation scam, prosecutors had said. The CBI has filed charge sheets in connection with alleged irregularities in 40 cases of coal block allocations during the UPA-1 and UPA-2 regime. On July 25, 2014, the Supreme Court had approved appointment of Additional Sessions Judge Parashar as special judge to exclusively deal with all coal scam cases.
Till now the special court has decided six such cases. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is accused in one case relating to the allocation of the Talabira II/III coal blocks in Odisha, in 2005 to Aditya Birla Group company -- M/s Hindalco. On March 11, 2015, the special court had summoned Singh and five others as accused. Besides Singh, former Coal Secretary P C Parakh, Aditya Birla Group Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla and two others were also summoned. The trial court order, however, was stayed by the Supreme Court on April 1, 2015, after Singh approached the top court for the relief.
His plea is still pending before the apex court. In the present case, the court had on August 19, 2016 framed charges, including cheating and criminal conspiracy against Gupta, the two public servants, the firm and its two officials. They all had pleaded not guilty and claimed trial. All the accused are out on bail. It had said, "Charge for the offences under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servants), 420 (cheating) of IPC and also under sections 13(1)(c) and 13(1) (d) (criminal misconduct by public servants) of the PC Act has been framed against all the accused..."
The court had put on trial all the accused in the case in which the CBI's closure report was earlier rejected by the court, asking the probe agency to further investigate the matter. The other two coal scam cases in which Gupta was earlier convicted related to Kamal Sponge Steel and Power Ltd (KSSPL) and Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd(VISUL). Kropha and Samria were also convicted in KSSPL case.