A SPECIAL court Wednesday held former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda and ex-coal secretary H C Gupta guilty on charges of corruption and criminal conspiracy linked to alleged irregularities in allocating a coal block to a private company in 2007.
The court will hear arguments on the quantum of punishment Thursday.
Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar also convicted Koda’s alleged associate Vijay Joshi, ex-Jharkhand chief secretary A K Basu and the private firm Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Limited (VISUL) in the case related to the Rajhara North coal block in Jharkhand.
The court acquitted four other accused of all charges: VISUL director Vaibhav Tulsyan, government officials Basant Kumar Bhattacharya and Bipin Bihari Singh, and chartered accountant Navin Kumar Tulsyan.
The verdict marked the fourth conviction by the special court hearing cases on the coal scam. The court had earlier convicted Jharkhand Ispat for the North Dhadu block in Jharkhand; Rathi Steel for the Kesla North block in Chhattisgarh; and Kamal Sponge for the Thesgora-B/Rudrapuri block in Madhya Pradesh.
Wednesday’s verdict was delivered on a charge sheet filed in 2014 by the CBI.
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The agency stated that the 36th screening committee recommended the block to VISUL even though the Jharkhand government and the Union Steel Ministry had not recommended the firm. It said that Gupta, who chaired the committee, had allegedly concealed facts related to the allocation from then prime minister Manmohan Singh who was also heading the Coal Ministry.
In 2015, the court had framed charges against all accused under IPC sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating) and 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servants), and under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
On Wednesday, Special Judge Parashar said, “A1 (the company), A3 (HC Gupta), A6 (AK Basu), A7 (Madhu Koda) and A8 (Vijay Joshi) are held guilty under IPC section 120-B read with PC Act 13 (1)(d).”
The court, however, acquitted VISUL and Joshi on a specific charge of cheating under IPC section 120(B). The judge also acquitted Gupta on specific charges linked to IPC section 409 and under the Prevention of Corruption Act 13 (1)(c), which pertains to misappropriating or converting for personal use property entrusted to him or under his control as a public servant or allows another person to do so.
Koda is also an accused in another case pertaining to alleged irregularities in the Amarkonda Murgadangal block allocation in Jharkhand. The CBI had filed a supplementary charge sheet in this case in March.