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Charges framed against former Coal Secretary, five others in coal blocks allocation scam case

A special court on Friday framed various charges, including cheating and criminal conspiracy, against former Coal Secretary H.C. Gupta, two public servants, Vikash Metals and Power Limited (VMPL) and its two officials in a coal blocks allocation scam case.

Coal Secretary-AV
Special Judge Bharat Parashar 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 case pertains to alleged irregularities in allocation of Moira and Madhujore (North and South) coal blocks in West Bengal to VMPL. The CBI had registered an FIR in the case In September 2012.

Besides Mr. Gupta and the firm, the court ordered to put on trial K.S. Kropha, ex-Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Coal; K.C. Samria, then Director (CA-I) in the Ministry, Vikash Patni, VMPL’s Managing Director; and Anand Mallick, VMPL’s authorised signatory.

The accused pleaded not guilty and claimed trial after which the court fixed the matter for further hearing on September 9.

Mr. Gupta, an accused in several coal scam cases and presently out on bail, recently told the court that he intended to “face trial from inside the jail” and withdraw his personal bond to secure bail due to financial difficulties.

He had also refused to accept the court’s offer to avail an advocate from the New Delhi Legal Aid Services Authority or an amicus curiae appointed by the court. His application is presently pending before the court.

While ordering the framing of charges in the present case, the court said prima facie offences of criminal conspiracy, cheating and criminal breach of trust by public servants under IPC and various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act are made out against the accused.

“Keeping in view the overall facts and circumstances of the case coupled with the submissions made, I am of the considered opinion that prima facie charge for the offences under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and for the offences under sections 120-B, 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servants), 420 (cheating) of IPC and under sections 13(1)(c) and 13(1)(d) (criminal misconduct by public servants) of the PC Act is made out against all the accused…,” the judge said.

The court also said prima facie substantive offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act were made out against Mr. Kropha and Mr. Samria.

“Charge for the offence under section 409 IPC and for the offences under PC Act are made out against accused Gupta.

“Charge for the offence under section 420 IPC is also prima facie made out against accused company M/s Vikash Metal and Power Ltd, Patni and Mallick,” it said.

The CBI, on January 28, 2016, placed before the court a Central government order according sanction to prosecute Mr. Kropha and Mr. Samria for their alleged involvement in the case.

It had also filed a report on its further probe in the case.

Regarding Mr. Gupta, the CBI had said that lapses in processing the application were found on his part too, but since he had retired, no action was being recommended.

The CBI had said that VMPL wrongly claimed that it was allocated 300 acres in Begusarai in Bihar by the Bihar Area Development Authority.

The probe agency had found that the land was deallocated and directors of the company failed to inform the screening committee members about it, it had said.

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