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Coal block scam: CBI court takes cognizance of offences against senior bureaucrats

The two public servants who were arraigned as accused in the chargesheet were identified as Harish Chandra Gupta, the former secretary, and Kuljeet Singh Kropha, the former joint secretary of the Ministry.

This case is related to the 36th Screening Committee of the Ministry of Coal in which recommendations for allocations of coal blocks were made for non-power sectors like cement and steel. (Representative Photo)

In a coal block scam case, a CBI court took cognizance of offences under charges of criminal conspiracy, corruption and cheating against five people, including senior bureaucrats of the Union Ministry of Coal (MoC).

Special Judge Arun Bhardwaj, on January 12, took cognizance of the offences under Sections 120-(b) (Criminal conspiracy), 420 (Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) and other relevant sections of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

The two public servants who were arraigned as accused in the chargesheet were identified as Harish Chandra Gupta, the former secretary, and Kuljeet Singh Kropha, the former joint secretary of the Ministry.

Kailash Chandra Samaria, the director at MoC, has not been arraigned in the case contrary to the recommendation of the Central Vigilance Commission. The CBI chargesheet had also arraigned the private company M/s Prakash Industries Ltd’s (PIL) the chairman-cum-managing director Ved Prakash Agarwal, and Ashok Kumar Chaturvedi, the executive director of the company

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The court, however, observed that “the offence of cheating could not be completed as neither the recommendations of the screening committee were approved by the Prime Minister, nor the coal block be allocated in favour of M/s PIL”.

This case is related to the 36th Screening Committee of the Ministry of Coal in which recommendations for allocations of coal blocks were made for non-power sectors like cement and steel. It deals with the irregularities in the application filed by PIL for the allotment of the Urtan coal block in Madhya Pradesh.

The Madhya Pradesh Government did not recommend the allocation of coal blocks to PIL. However, it has been alleged that HC Gupta made false recommendations to the PMO that the MP government had done so.

The CBI’s allegations against the public servants are that there was “no scrutiny of the application forms in MoC for checking eligibility and completeness before sending them to the administrative ministry/state government concerned for their evaluation and recommendations”.

“The other allegation is that during the 36th Screening Committee meeting it was not pointed out by them that M/s. PIL also allocated Fatehpur coal block which was concealed by M/s. PIL in its feedback form,” the court said.

The allegations against the private persons are that they “falsely submitted that they have obtained environmental clearance, they mentioned in their application as well as in their feedback form that detailed project report has been prepared and appraised by financial institution, however, there was no such DPR at that time and the DPR relied on is of some other project. There was no purchase of equipment for the project contrary to their averments”, the court noted.

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