New Delhi: Former Coal Secretary H C Gupta, facing prosecution in coal scam cases, was put on trial on Thursday by a special court along with four others for alleged offences of cheating and criminal conspiracy in the JICPL case.
Besides Gupta, Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar also framed charges against senior public servants K S Kropha and K C Samria, JAS Infrastructure Capital Pvt Ltd (JICPL) and its Director Manoj Kumar Jayaswal for the alleged irregularities in the allotment of ‘Mahuagarhi Coal Block’ in Jharkhand to a private firm.
After the charges were framed, the accused pleaded not guilty and claimed trial in the case.
The court has put up the matter for further hearing on April 17, 2017.
While ordering to put the accused on trial, the court had on December 7, said, “The facts of the present case prima facie show that accused H C Gupta, K S Kropha and K C Samria entered into a criminal conspiracy with company M/s JICPL and its director Manoj Kumar Jayaswal so as to procure allotment of a coal block in favour of M/s JICPL”.
“The acts alleged against the accused public servants Gupta, Kropha and Samria are such that if questioned they cannot claim that they were acting in discharge of their official duties,” the court had said.
In a surprising move, the former Coal Secretary had on August 16, told the court that he intended to “face trial from inside the jail” and withdraw his personal bond to secure bail due to financial issues.
However, he later withdrew his plea. The court said prima facie charges for alleged offences under sections 420 (cheating), 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant), 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of IPC and under relevant provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act are made out against the accused.
Around eight different charge sheets have been filed against Gupta and proceedings are going on individually. The Supreme Court had recently dismissed his plea seeking joint trial in all these cases.
Some of the cases in which Gupta was summoned as accused by the court include those relating to alleged irregularities in allocation of Thesgora-B Rudrapuri coal block to accused firm Kamal Sponge Steel and Power Ltd (KSSPL) and allocation of Moira and Madhujore (North and South) coal blocks in West Bengal’s Raniganj area to Vikash Metal and Power Ltd.
He is also accused in a case of alleged irregularities in the allotment of the Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block to two companies of Jindal group and allocation of Brahmapuri coal block in Madhya Pradesh to accused firm Pushp Steels and Mining Pvt Ltd (PSMPL).
The court had on July 31 last year issued summons to the accused after taking cognisance of CBI’s final report. The court had earlier refused to accept the probe agency’s closure report filed in the case and had directed it to further investigate the matter.
It had noted that it was prima facie clear that officers of the Ministry of Coal or the screening committee had acted in a manner which was “detrimental” to public interest and they had allowed JAS Infrastructure and Power Ltd (JIPL), now known as JICPL, to “misappropriate” nationalised natural resources.
The agency had earlier filed a closure report in the case in which it had lodged an FIR against the firm, Jayaswal and others for alleged irregularities by JIPL in acquiring the coal block.
The FIR was lodged on the allegation that the company had not disclosed to the Ministry of Coal that it was already in possession of a coal block.