Block allocation case: Court summons ex-coal secy, othershttps://indianexpress.com/article/business/economy/block-allocation-case-court-summons-ex-coal-secy-others/

Block allocation case: Court summons ex-coal secy, others

The court has stated the action of coal ministry officials to be 'arbitrary' and 'illegal'.

A special court on Monday rejected the closure report filed by the CBI in connection with allocation of Rudrapuri coal block to Kamal Sponge Steel & Power Ltd (KSSPL). Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar, while taking cognisance of the offences in the case, has summoned former coal secretary HC Gupta and five other accused to appear before the court on October 31.

The court has taken cognisance of offence under section 120 -B (criminal conspiracy), 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant), and 420 (cheating) of the IPC against the accused company KSSPL, its managing director Pawan Kumar Ahluwalia, company’s chartered accountant Amit Goyal, the then joint secretary KS Kropha and KC Somaria, director, coal ministry.

The former coal secretary has also been summoned for the offences under section 13(1)(d) read with 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

“The arbitrary manner in which Ministry of Coal officers functioned followed by the perfunctory manner in which the Screening Committee headed by Secretary, MOC deliberated upon such an important issue clearly amounted to an act by public servants of not only abusing their position as public servants but also acting against public interest,” the court said.

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Rejecting the closure report, the court said, “I may state that the investigation as has been carried out in the present matter is not only sketchy in nature but seems to have been carried out while first deciding the end-result and thereafter to carry out the investigation and prepared the final report. In fact, no investigation worth the name has been carried out in the present matter.” The court has also observed that the investigation has not proceeded “further even beyond the first stage”. “In fact the report appears more to be statement of plea of defence of the accused persons and its Directors and that of the officers of Ministry of Coal – rather than the report of any investigation.” the court said.

The court has stated the action of coal ministry officials to be “arbitrary” and “illegal”. “The conduct of officers of Ministry of coal, prima facie fails well laid down test of observing those reasonable safeguards against detriment to the public interest, which having regard to all circumstances, it was their duty to have adopted,” the court said.

The court has also observed that the way KSSPL acquired blocks by allegedly making false claims about its net-worth or its production capacity in its application form, it was not possible without “active collusion” of its officials with officers of the ministry and screening panel members.