A special court, which has summoned former Congress MP and industrialist Naveen Jindal along with 14 others in connection with alleged irregularities in a 2008 Jharkhand coal block allocation case, took cognisance Wednesday of a CBI chargesheet which claimed that Jindal promised then chief minister Madhu Koda of Congress support to his unstable government in exchange for the coal block.
Directing all accused, including former Minister of State for Coal Dasari Narayan Rao, to be present in court on May 22, special judge Bharat Parashar said Jindal “manipulated the entire government machinery” since the chargesheet stated that a “company promoted by Dasari Narayan Rao received payment of Rs 2 crore from Naveen Jindal on account of undue favour shown by him in allocation of Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block to Jindal group of companies”.
The special court said prima facie offences under IPC section 120-B (criminal conspiracy), read with section 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant), 420 (cheating), read with sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act were made out against all 15 accused.
The CBI, in its chargesheet, stated: “Investigation revealed that Naveen Jindal met Madhu Koda several times in Ranchi and also at Delhi. He requested Koda to recommend his two companies, Jindal Steel & Power Ltd (JSPL) & Gagan Sponge Iron Pvt Ltd (GSPL), for allocation of Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block. Naveen Jindal conspired with Madhu Koda and promised him to garner support of the Congress party for his unstable government and help him in continuing as Chief Minister, Jharkhand.”
“Koda had won the assembly election as independent candidate and had not joined any political party. Even after being chief minister, his government was not very stable. The promise of Congress support to stabilize his government and help him in completing his term was an assurance/favour extended by Naveen Jindal to Madhu Koda in lieu of the recommendation of allocation of coal block,” the chargesheet stated.
Reacting to the developments in court, a spokesperson for the JSPL said: “JSPL reiterates that it is confident that it will stand vindicated at the end of the ongoing judicial process. We deny all allegations made against our company and its management. We will be availing appropriate remedy in accordance with law.”
“We have full faith in our judiciary and are confident to come out clean during the process. The said allocation was made to the company on merits and all along the course of the investigation the company and its officials have fully co-operated with the authorities, and whenever asked, explained and provided all the supporting documents,” the JSPL spokesperson said.
The JSPL is among five firms summoned as accused. The others are JRPL, SML, New Delhi Exim Pvt Ltd and Gagan Infraenergy Ltd.
The court said accused K Ramakrishna Prasad, Managing Director of Sowbhagya Media Ltd (SML), prima facie facilitated the transfer of Rs 2 crore on behalf of the Jindal group in favour of Rao by “manipulating the share of allocation process of his company with a view to give a legal sanctity to the said transfer of quid-pro-quo”.
On the role of Koda, the court said that he “arbitrarily” changed the names of the companies on his own for making recommendations to the Ministry of Coal. “In the recommendation as was made by Madhu Koda, the name of JSW Energy Ltd was replaced with GSIPL. Accordingly, as per the recommendation approved by the Chief Minister, a letter was sent to Secretary, Coal in favour of Lanco Infratech Ltd, JSPL and GSIPL in the ratio of 40%, 30% and 30% respectively,” the court said.
On the role of former Coal Secretary H C Gupta, the court said: “Screening committee, headed by H C Gupta, chose to overlook the aforesaid discrepancies and the factum of GSIPL to be ineligible as per criteria being considered by MOP (Ministry of Power)/ CEA (Central Electricity Authority) i.e. the administrative ministry and the fact that it was not recommended by MOP.”
Gupta prima facie committed acts of omission and commission so as to benefit the Jindal group of companies, the court said.