Former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda and ex-coal secretary H C Gupta were today convicted in a case of coal block allocation scam by a special court for corruption and criminal conspiracy.
They were convicted along with three others for irregularities in the allocation of Rajhara North coal block in Jharkhand to Kolkata-based private company, Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd (VISUL).
With today's verdict, four of the 30 cases arising out of the coal block allocation scam unearthed during the previous UPA regime, have been decided.
Besides the former chief minister and Gupta, others who have been held guilty are ex-Jharkhand chief secretary A K Basu, Koda's close aide Vijay Joshi and the company VISUL under section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of Indian Penal Code and section 13(1)(d) of Prevention of Corruption Act, which entails maximum punishment of seven years.
Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar will hear arguments on the quantum of punishment tomorrow.
The court also acquitted four persons VISUL's former director Vaibhav Tulsyan and two public servants Basant Kumar Bhattacharya and Bipin Bihari Singh and chartered accountant Navin Kumar Tulsyan of all charges levelled against them.
All the accused persons were present before the court when the verdict was pronounced.
Koda is also an accused along with Gupta in another case pertaining to alleged irregularities in allocation of Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block in Jharkhand. The case also involves Congress leader and industrialist Naveen Jindal and former Minister of State for Coal Dasari Narayan Rao as accused.
Gupta, who was the coal secretary from December 31, 2005 to November 2008, was earlier awarded two year jail term along with then joint secretary K S Kropha and then director K C Samaria in the Ministry of Coal, for cheating, criminal conspiracy and corruption in a case relating to irregularities in the allocation of Thesgora-B Rudrapuri coal block in Madhya Pradesh to Kamal Sponge Steel and Power Ltd (KSSPL).
Gupta is currently on bail.
Among the politically sensitive cases in the coal block scam is one which also involves the name of then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The case relates to the allocation of Talabira II coal block in Odisha to M/s Hindalco in 2005, in which the name of Singh has been dragged as an accused along with then Coal Secretary P C Parakh and industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla besides others.
The proceedings in the case was stayed by the Supreme Court on April 1, 2015 after Singh moved it opposing the order of the special court which had on March 11, 2015 summoned him and others.
In the present case, Koda and eight others were earlier summoned as accused after the court had taken cognisance of offences under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) read with 420 (cheating) and 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servants) of IPC and under provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act.
The CBI had alleged that the firm had applied for allocation of Rajhara North coal block on January 8, 2007.
It said although the Jharkhand government and Steel Ministry did not recommend VISUL's case for coal block allocation, the 36th Screening Committee recommended the block to the accused firm.
The CBI said that Gupta, who was chairman of the screening committee, had allegedly concealed facts from then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who at that time 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.
All the accused have refuted the allegations levelled against them.
(This article has not been edited by Zeebiz editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)