After 10 long years of judicial procedures, now finally the former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda is held guilty of corruption and other offences by a special court. The court also convicted former coal secretary HC Gupta. Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar held Koda, Gupta and other accused persons, including former Jharkhand chief secretary AK Basu and private company Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd (VISUL), guilty of varying offences including criminal conspiracy in the case pertaining to irregularities in allocation of Rajhara North coal block in Jharkhand to the Kolkata-based VISUL. The court will hear argument on quantum of punishment soon.
Gupta, who was the chairman of the screening committee, had concealed facts from then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who then headed the Coal Ministry too, that Jharkhand had not recommended VISUL for allocation of a coal block. Koda, Basu and two accused public servants conspired to favour VISUL in the coal block allocation, the agency had alleged. The accused have refuted the allegations levelled against them. The Madhu Koda mining scam is a scam that occurred in Jharkhand; it was suspected by investigative agencies that Koda took huge bribes for illegally allotting iron ore and coal mining contracts in Jharkhand when he was the then chief minister of the state. As per estimates, Koda and his associates collected over Rs 4,000 crore by allotting mines to business houses. On orders of Jharkhand High Court, CBI is investigating the scam. Koda was arrested by state police’s vigilance wing on November 30, 2009 and on July 31, 2013 he was released on bail from Birsa Munda Central Jail in Ranchi. A Special money-laundering court in Delhi has attached Koda’s properties worth Rs 144 crore in a disproportionate assets case against his alleged associates. It found that the properties were involved in the offence of laundering under the provisions of The Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in a case probed by Enforcement Directorate (ED).
Some of the attached assets also belonged to Anil Adinath Bastawade, who was arrested by the ED in January 2013 from Jakarta and Manoj B Punamiya, an associate of Koda and an accused in the case. ED sources had said that the amount of scam, which had allegedly taken place during Koda’s regime between 2006 and 2008, had gone up to Rs 3,400 crore in the course of investigation and the amount excluded Bastawade’s asset, who was an absconder for long time.
In the 2008-2009 period, several accounts held by Kripashankar Singh’s wife Malti Devi, and his son Narendra, showed deposits and transfers totalling Rs 65 crore. Singh was alleged to have links with Madhu Koda and helped Koda in money laundering. But later one, the enforcement directorate found no evidence linking him to Koda. However, the anti-corruption investigations revealed disproportionately large assets. Despite these assets, Congress kept supporting Kripashankar; it has been suggested that he is close to some aides of Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
Meanwhile, Congress could not save Madhu Koda but Kripashankar Singh, who would have been behind the bar by now, is free from legal clutches. As we all know he is the fund generator for the party. The investigating agencies never gave a clean chit to him; but Bombay High Court held that the PIL alleging illegal amassing of wealth by Singh and his family members was maintainable. Kripashankar Singh told the Bombay High Court that the PIL seeking a probe into his alleged disproportionate assets rides “piggyback” on complaints made by a rival political party, the BJP, and must be dismissed. But the irony is that he has no such enemies in rival party. These rivals are none other than his own party leaders who never liked his closeness to Gandhi family; they are the one who exposed him through journalist and RTI activists. In 2008, I wrote and published his Biography, “Let Me do my work” (mujhe mera kam karne do”), which was banned in Mumbai and later the things went haywire and I was asked to shut my mouth, Mid-day flashed big news over this issue and any how the matter settled without much damage to me and also him.
In March 2011, it was revealed that in 2008-9, Shahid Balwa had channelled Rs 4.5 crore into an account held by Kripashankar’s son Narendra and his wife. In the anti-corruption atmosphere of the time, Kripashankar had to resign. On February 22, 2012, the Bombay High Court directed the city police commissioner to prosecute Kripashankar Singh for “criminal misconduct” under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The PIL was filed by Sanjay Tiwari. Media hyped the issue, many reporters lost their jobs because mantriji managed to get them out by pleasing the banner authorities, anyhow Kripashankar managed to escape from controversies, but the reporter was reluctant to chase him. It’s better late than never; finally court ordered the probe in the matter. I am quite sure if the probe would have gone strict; common public would come to know how then a vegetable vendor entered politics and became one of the richest politicians of our country. Singh’s wife owns a 258-acre agricultural land in Ratnagiri worth Rs 25 crore along with the owner of a private security firm. The land was purchased at the time when Singh was state home minister and had granted 104 arms licenses to the security firm as kickback.
It alleged that Madhu Koda was close to Kripashankar and lot of money transactions took place between them. The PIL claimed that Kripashankar’s son is married to Ankita, daughter of Kamlesh Singh, a minister in the Koda cabinet, also in jail in connection with the scam. The petition alleged that certain diaries were recovered by the investigating team which reflect that Kripashankar received large sums of money from Koda. Despite this, probe into his financial affairs had not been done.
(This is the first part of the edit and remaining portion will continue tomorrow)
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