A SPECIAL court in Delhi on Monday sentenced former Coal Secretary H C Gupta and two serving IAS officers — K S Kropha, former Joint Secretary in the Coal Ministry and now Meghalaya Chief Secretary, and K C Samria, then Director in the Coal Ministry and now Joint Secretary in the Minority Affairs Ministry — to two years in jail in the coal scam case.
All three officers were, however, granted bail for two months. They are the first public servants to be convicted and sentenced in the coal block allocation scam, unearthed during the UPA regime.
Read | What is coal scam?
The case relates to alleged irregularities in the allocation of Thesgora-B/ Rudrapuri coal block in Madhya Pradesh to Kamal Sponge Steel & Power Ltd.
The firm, KSSPL, and its managing director, Pawan Kumar Ahluwalia, have also been convicted under charges of cheating and criminal conspiracy. Ahluwalia was handed a three-year sentence on Monday, but was granted bail for two months.
While the three officers were told to pay a fine of Rs 1 lakh each, a fine of Rs 30 lakh was imposed on Ahluwalia, and Rs 1 crore on the company. Judge Parashar granted them time till June 5 to pay the fine.
The CBI had stated in its chargesheet that KSSPL had overstated its eligibility to get the coal block, and people in various positions in government had played along to make the allocation. The CBI said the application that the company had filed was an incomplete one and should have been rejected at the initial stage itself. During arguments, the accused denied the allegations levelled against them.
At the time of the allocation in 2008, Gupta was the coal secretary, Kropha was joint secretary and Samria was director. In October 2015, the court ordered framing of charges against Gupta, stating that he “withheld complete and proper information” from former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was in charge of the Coal Ministry, on the allocation of the coal block.
Last week, the three officers were convicted under sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Indian Penal Code, charged with abusing their position as public servants, obtaining pecuniary advantage without public interest, and criminal conspiracy. Gupta, however, was acquitted of the charge of criminal breach of trust by a public servant.
The court on Monday sentenced the three officers to two years in jail for criminal conspiracy and cheating, and two years for abusing their position as civil servants and obtaining pecuniary advantage. Special Judge Bharat Parashar, however, clarified that both the sentences would run concurrently.
The lawyers for the convicts said they would move the high court against the order.