New Delhi: The coal block allocation scam unearthed during the previous UPA government on Friday claimed the first set of casualty among public servants, with the conviction of a former and two serving bureaucrats by a Delhi Court.
H C Gupta, who was the Coal Secretary from December 31, 2005 to November 2008, then joint secretary K S Kropha and then director K C Samaria in the Ministry of Coal, were on Friday held guilty in a case related to irregularities in the allocation of Thesgora-B Rudrapuri coal block in Madhya Pradesh to Kamal Sponge Steel and Power Ltd (KSSPL).
Gupta was accused in 11 cases while Kropha and Samaria were allegedly involved in eight and six cases of coal scam respectively. A total of 28 cases had arisen from the coal block allocation scam, the investigation of which was monitored by the Supreme Court.
At first, the CBI was probing the allocation from 2004 to 2010 and later its ambit was expanded to cover them since 1993. Until now, three cases have been decided with the first conviction order passed on March 28, 2016 in a case pertaining to irregularities in allotment of a coal block in Jharkhand to a firm Jharkhand Ispat Pvt Ltd (JIPL) whose two directors R S Rungta and R C Rungta were awarded four-year jail term.
The second conviction followed four months later on July 26 in which Rathi Steel and Power Ltd (RSPL) and three of its officials --Managing Director Pradeep Rathi, Chief Executive Officer Udit Rathi and AGM Kushal Aggarwal -- were held guilty by the court for ‘deceiving’ the government by making false representation even before then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Friday's decision by Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar, who was appointed exclusively to deal with the coal scam cases, was the third. Besides the three public servants, others convicted are the firm KSSPL and its managing director Pawan Kumar Ahluwalia.
Among the other important cases arising out of the coal scam is the one related to the allocation of Talabira II coal block in Odisha to M/s Hindalco in 2005 in which the name of then PM Manmohan Singh was dragged as one of the accused.
Singh was then also holding the charge of the Coal Ministry. The proceedings in the case against Singh was stayed by the Supreme Court on April 1, 2015, after he moved it opposing the order of the special court which had on March 11, 2015, summoned him and others, including the then Coal Secretary P C Parakh and industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla as accused.
The two other officials of the Aditya Birla Group -- Shubhendu Amitabh (since left) and D Bhattacharya -- were also accused in the case. One important case arising out of the scam related to the alleged involvement of Congress leader and industrialist Naveen Jindal in the allocation of Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block in Jharkhand in which Gupta is also an accused.
In another case pertaining to allocation of coal blocks to Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd in Jharkhand's Rajhara town, also involving former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda as accused, the court is currently hearing the final arguments.
Gupta is also an accused in the allocation of coal block to AMR Iron and Steel Pvt Ltd which also involves former Minister of State for Coal Santosh Bagrodia and Rajya Sabha MP Vijay Darda as accused.
The other case related to irregularities in allocation of a Chhattisgarh-based coal block to SKS Ispat and Power Ltd also involves Kropha as accused. Gupta, Kropha and Samaria are facing trial in the case of alleged irregularities in the allotment of 'Mahuagarhi Coal Block' in Jharkhand to JAS Infrastructure Capital Pvt Ltd (JICPL).
The three are also facing trial in another case involving M/s Navbharat Power Pvt Ltd (NPPL), now known as Brahmani Thermal Power Pvt Ltd (BTPPL). Another case filed against the three of them related to the allocation of Fatehpur (East) coal block in Chhattisgarh to accused firm JLD Yavatmal Pvt Ltd in which it had earlier rejected CBI's closure report.
The three are also accused in a case pertaining to the alleged irregularities in allocation of Moira and Madhujore (North and South) coal blocks in West Bengal to Vikash Metals and Power Ltd. Gupta and Kropha are further accused before the court in a case of alleged irregularities in allocation of a Chattisgarh coal block to SKS Ispat and Power Ltd and another case involving Grace Industries Ltd.