Former Coal Secretary H C Gupta, facing prosecution in coal scam cases, was on Thursday put on trial by a special court along with four others including two public servants 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.