Former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda and his close aide hatched a "well planned conspiracy" to obtain a coal block in favour of a private firm, a Delhi court has said while convicting him and others in a coal scam case.
Special Judge Bharat Parashar termed the case as "classic conspiracy" between Koda, his aide Vijay Joshi, former coal secretary H C Gupta, ex-Jharkhand chief secretary A K Basu and the firm Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd (VISUL).
"It is crystal clear that VISUL was used as a vehicle to further their ill intention by Koda and Joshi so as to procure allocation of a captive coal bock in favour of the firm," the court said.
"A well planned conspiracy was worked out by Joshi and Koda and they even succeeded in achieving the final objective of the conspiracy i.e. obtaining allocation of a captive coal block from Ministry of Coal in favour of M/s VISUL." It said that Koda was "personally interested" in the affairs of VISUL and hance the things moved as per his wishes and desires and that of his known close associate Joshi, who had taken over the company from its earlier owners.
The court noted that Basu agreed to assist by his "overt acts" Koda and Joshi in procuring allocation of the coal block in favour of VISUL and joined the Screening Committee meeting held on July 3, 2008 with a "pre-determined intention of helping VISUL in procuring allocation of a coal block." Regarding Gupta, the court said he "also boarded the bandwagon of criminal conspiracy as was floated by Koda and Joshi and which was being propelled by Basu in the Screening Committee meeting."
VISUL was earlier consciously not recommended by the Jharkhand Government to the Coal Ministry as its requirement of coal was not found to be sufficient, the court noted.
It said that Koda "cannot say that he simply signed on the dotted lines in the files" put up before him by his officers.
"In fact it will be an act of constitutional blasphemy, if one was to say that an Act or rules and regulations made thereunder confers unfettered discretion on a minister or on the officers responsible under the Act to implement it or to implement the rules and regulations made thereunder.
Unfettered discretion ceases to exist where the rule of law reigns," the court said.
The court said the recommendation of Screening Committee in favour of VISUL regarding allocation of the coal block was not made in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Ministry, which governs the allocation of captive coal blocks.
Gupta, whose responsibility was all the more onerous in ensuring that complete and correct facts are placed before the Prime Minister who was also heading the Ministry then, did not mention all the facts "as a conscious act" and his actions cannot be said to have been taken in good faith, it said.
The court said that Gupta made conscious efforts not to disclose true and correct facts for the approval to the then Prime Minister regarding recommendation of coal block in favour of VISUL.
"Gupta knew very well that Prime Minister as Minister- in-Charge was to act upon the recommendation of Screening Committee only.
"Moreover, as Secretary Coal, Gupta was not only the Administrative Head of the Ministry but was also the principal adviser of the Minister on all matters of policy and administration within his Ministry," the court said, adding "it is crystal clear that the facts and circumstances of the case in hand presents a case of a classic criminal conspiracy."
The court also said all the three public servants abused their position in order to obtain the coal block.
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