A special court on Thursday framed a “separate charge” for the alleged offence of cheating against accused firm Jharkhand Ispat Pvt Ltd (JIPL) in a coal blocks allocation scam case. The court said that at the time of framing of charges earlier against JIPL and its two directors, R C Rungta and R S Rungta, who are also accused in the case, no “substantive charge” for offence under section 420 (cheating) of IPC was framed against the firm “even though the same was prima facie made out from the facts and circumstances of the case”.
“Keeping in view the overall facts and circumstances of the case, a separate charge for the offence under section 420 IPC has been framed against accused M/s JIPL to which the AR (authorised representative) of the company pleaded not guilty and claimed trial,” Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar said.
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The court noted that earlier charges for alleged offences under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 467 (forgery of a valuable security), 468 (forgery for the purpose of cheating), 420 (cheating) and 471 (using as genuine a forged document) of IPC were framed against all the accused persons.
As the court framed separate charge against the firm, the counsel, appearing for JIPL, contended that the accused might be prejudiced by it. The court, however, clarified, “it is directed that the accused shall be at liberty to point out as to in what manner, if any, they stand prejudiced by this addition of charge and thereafter the said issue will be decided as per law as and when raised”.
JIPL’s counsel also said that the court should exercise its power under CrPC to amend the charge of conspiracy framed against the firm earlier. To this, the court said, “such a contention does not arise at all now” as this issue has already been dealt with by it.
The case has been fixed for commencement of recording of prosecution evidence from June 3. JIPL and its two directors are accused of securing allotment of North Dhadu coal block in Jharkhand allegedly on the basis of false and forged documents.
During the proceedings today, the court also allowed the separate applications filed by CBI seeking its permission to place on record certain documents related to the case and also to include three more names in the list of witnesses. “At the outset, I may state that undoubtedly CBI ought to have been careful in placing on record all the relevant and relied upon documents while filing the charge sheet,” the judge said.
“However, if for one or the other reason some documents have not been placed on record then in the absence of there being no specific provision debarring CBI to file additional documents, such a right cannot be denied to them,” the court said. It also asked the agency to supply the copies of these documents to the accused.
Both the Rungtas’ were granted bail by the court earlier after they had appeared before it in pursuance to summons issued against them. Besides these three, two other persons – Ramabatar Kedia and Naresh Mahto – were also summoned as accused in the case but both of them have died and the proceedings against them were abated by the court.
The court had on March 16 framed charges against JIPL and both the Rungtas’ for alleged offences of criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery of valuable security, forgery for the purpose of cheating and using a forged document as genuine. In its charge sheet, CBI has said that it had found in the probe that JIPL had “grossly misrepresented” a number of aspects before the ministries of Steel and Coal to inflate their claim, thereby inducing Coal Ministry officers and the screening committee to allocate the coal block to them.