A special court on Friday granted bail to three top officials of Delhi-based Rathi Steel and Power Ltd (RSPL) in a coal scam case pertaining to alleged irregularities in allocation of Kesla North coal block in Chhattisgarh to the firm.
RSPL’s Managing Director Pradip Rathi, Chief Executive Officer Udit Rathi, and AGM Kushal Aggarwal were enlarged on bail after they appeared before the court in pursuance to the summons issued against them.
The court on March 2, had summoned RSPL and its three top officials as accused for the alleged offences under sections 120-B(Criminal Conspiracy) and 420(cheating)of IPC.
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Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar granted bail to three individual accused on a personal bond for Rs 1 lakh each and surety of the like amount.
During the brief arguments, the counsel appearing for the accused sought bail on the ground that their clients were not arrested during the investigation and there was no allegation that they have not cooperated in the probe.
Senior Public Prosecutor V K Sharma opposed their bail pleas alleging that they have conspired and misrepresented the facts before the screening committee to acquire the coal block.
While issuing summons to the three officials of RSPL, after taking cognisance of CBI’s charge sheet, the court had observed that they allegedly “deceived” the Ministry of Coal (MoC) by “misrepresenting” facts regarding possession of land which was an important factor in allocation of coal block.
It had noted that these officials had appeared before the screening committee for making presentation and submitting a feedback form on February 7, 2008 on behalf of RSPL.
The CBI had chargesheeted the firm and Udit Rathi only as accused in the case for alleged offence of criminal conspiracy and cheating under the IPC.
CBI had lodged an FIR against RSPL, its directors, Udit Rathi and members of the 36th screening committee and other unknown persons for the offences under section 120-B, 420 of IPC and under provision of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The charge sheet was later on filed against RSPL and Udit Rathi only. Regarding other directors of RSPL or members of the 36th screening committee, CBI had said that allegations against them could not be substantiated during the probe.
CBI had also told the court that “on account of procedural lapses noticed on part of MOC officers, action has been recommended against them to the government.”
The court had noted that in the initial application of January 12, 2007 to the MOC, RSPL had projected a total requirement of 500 acres of land for its proposed end use project.
The court said that in the feedback form, it was claimed that 250 acres of land has already been acquired for phase-I and phase-II of the project and 400 acres of land was shown under the process of acquisition for phase-III.
It said that during the investigation, it was found that on the date of application, the firm was having possession of approximately 51.40 hectares of land only (127.09 acres) and at the time of submission of feed back form, the company was having a total of 164.68 acres of land only.
In its order, the court had said that although the feedback form was signed only by Udit Rathi but the other two officials Pradeep Rathi and Kushal Aggarwal were also present at the time of its submission and none of them can “prima facie” claim to be not aware of the area of land actually in possession of the company as on the date.
The court observed that entire process of submission of initial application and subsequent feedback form along with the presentation made before screening committee “speak volumes about the malafide intention” of the three representative of RSPL in “dishonestly inducing MOC authorities” on the basis of false claim made by them regarding possession of land.
CBI had on February 20 filed a charge sheet in the case involving RSPL for allegedly making false claims about its land holdings and capacity to get coal block in Chhattisgarh.
The company was allocated Kesla North coal block in Korba, Chhattisgarh on August 5, 2008.