In a relief to former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday stayed a CBI trial court’s order awarding him a three-year jail term in a coal scam case. The HC also stayed the Rs 25 lakh fine while asking Koda to not leave the country until the next date of hearing on January 22.
The order came after Koda submitted a plea seeking suspension of the jail term and regular bail till pendency of his appeal before the HC. The former CM had also sought leniency from the court, saying he had medical issues and two minor daughters. While staying Koda’s jail term, Justice Anu Malhotra also sought CBI’s response on his appeal.
Koda, who was held guilty of corruption and conspiracy in allocation of a Jharkhand-based coal block to Kolkata-based company Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd (VISUL), also challenged the December 13 and 16, 2017 orders of conviction and sentence respectively, which was admitted by the HC. The former CM was granted bail by a trial court till January 18. In his appeal, Koda said the trial court order holding him guilty was a bad precedent in law.
The appeal and stay on the fine were opposed by CBI counsel Tarannum Cheema. The agency, however, did not oppose interim bail granted to Koda till January 22. The HC had on December 22, 2017 stayed a trial court order imposing a fine of Rs 50 lakh on VISUL in the case till the next date of hearing. The HC on December 20 had sought the CBI’s response on an appeal by Koda’s close aide Vijay Joshi against the trial court’s order awarding him three years jail term in the coal scam case.
All the pleas filed so far in connection with this matter will be heard on January 22. Koda, ex-coal secretary H C Gupta, A K Basu, former Jharkhand chief secretary, and Joshi were awarded jail terms of three years for indulging in corrupt practices and hatching a criminal conspiracy in the allocation of Rajhara North coal block in Jharkhand to the Kolkata-based company.
“Such white collar crimes are more dangerous to the society than ordinary crimes, firstly because the financial losses are much higher, and secondly because of the damage inflicted on public morale. The average loss from ordinary crimes such as burglaries and robberies and larcenies etc may run into a few thousand, but the loss which white collar crimes may cause run not in lakhs but crores,” the trial court had said.
It had imposed fines of Rs 50 lakh, Rs 25 lakh and Rs 1 lakh on VISUL, Koda and Gupta respectively in the UPA-era coal scam. The convicts were granted statutory bail for a period of two months to enable them to file appeals in the Delhi HC. So far, four out of 30 coal block allocation scam cases have been decided by the special court, including this order, and 12 people and four companies have been held guilty.
(With inputs from PTI)