Former Rajya Sabha MP Vijay Darda, ex-Coal Secretary H C Gupta and five others were on Thursday put on trial by a special court in a coal scam case relating to alleged irregularities in the allocation of a coal block in Chhattisgarh. The court also framed charges against two senior public servants K S Kropha and K C Samria, M/s JLD Yavatmal Energy Pvt Ltd, its Director Manoj Kumar Jayaswal and Vijay Darda’s son Devendra Darda after they pleaded not guilty and claimed trial.
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Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar framed charges for the alleged offences under section 120B (criminal conspiracy) read with sections 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant) and 420 (cheating) of IPC and under relevant provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The court has fixed December 16 for admission and denial of documents. The court had on August 20 last year granted bail to the accused who had appeared before it following summons.
It had on November 20, 2014, refused to accept CBI’s closure report in the case and directed it to conduct further probe the matter, stating that the former MP had “misrepresented” facts in letters written to then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who then held the Coal portfolio. The court had said that Darda, the Chairman of Lokmat Group, had done so to get the Fatehpur (East) coal block in Chhattisgarh allotted to JLD Yavatmal Energy Pvt Ltd. It had said that “prima facie” offence of cheating wascommitted by private parties in “furtherance of conspiracy” hatched between them and the public servants.
JLD Yavatmal Energy Pvt Ltd was allotted Fatehpur (East) coal block by the 35th Screening Committee. CBI had earlier alleged in its FIR that JLD Yavatmal had wrongfully concealed previous allocation of four coal blocks to its group companies in 1999-2005, but later filed a closure report saying no undue benefit was given to JLD Yavatmal by the Coal Ministry in allocation of coal blocks to it.
It had said that nothing substantial has emerged to establish cheating and criminal conspiracy among officials of the Ministry of Coal and JLD Yavatmal Energy Ltd’s directors. All the accused had denied the allegations against them.