Updated: October 7, 2020 6:47:07 am
A special CBI court on Tuesday convicted Dilip Ray, the then Union Minister of State for Coal in the government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1999, for his alleged involvement in the coal block allocation scandal. The court observed that Ray “abused his official position”, as his decision of “relaxation of policy without any logical or legal basis amounts to gross abuse of his powers by the minister”.
The case pertains to allocation of Brahmadiha coal block in Giridih, Jharkhand, to Castron Technologies Ltd (CTL) in 1999. The court will hear arguments on the quantum of sentence on October 14.
Ray was convicted along with five others: CTL; its director Mahendra Kumar Agarwalla; Castron Mining Ltd; then additional secretary, Coal, and chairman, 14th Screening Committee Pradip Kumar Banerjee; and Nitya Nand Gautam, the then adviser (projects), Coal Ministry, and member-convenor, 14th Screening Committee.
In his judgment, Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar wrote, “It is clear on the face of record that Dilip Ray abused his official position in taking various decisions, and in doing so he not only acted beyond his capacity as minister of a caretaker government but also in contravention of the unambiguous provisions of CMN Act,1973. It is also clear that he so acted with a view to facilitate and obtain allocation of impugned non-nationalised Brahmadiha coal block in favour of M/s CTL…”
The judgment stated, “The very relaxation of policy without any logical or legal basis amounts to gross abuse of his powers by the Minister and…the decision to allocate the impugned coal block in favour of CTL was also without any public interest and was in fact against public interest.”
The order said, “It has been now concluded beyond shadows of all reasonable doubts that all the five accused persons…conspired together to procure allocation of a captive coal block in favour of M/s CTL and finally achieved the said object of criminal conspiracy by undertaking various acts of cheating MOC [Ministry of Coal], Government of India…by various acts constituting the offence of criminal misconduct as defined under PC Act, 1988…”
The court held them guilty under IPC Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant), and 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) and Section 13 (1) (c) and 13 (1) (d) Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
The court also held CTL, Agarwalla and CML guilty for the offence under IPC Section 379 (theft) and 34 (common intention).
As per CBI’s case, a criminal conspiracy was hatched by private parties and public servants involved in the process of allocation of Brahmadiha coal block, which was “not an identified captive coal block to be allocated to private parties, so even the screening committee was not competent to consider its allocation to any company much less to M/s CTL.”
Ray’s counsel, Abhishek Singhvi, told the court that Ray had “no role in the decision of (the) screening committee, which primarily decided to allocate Brahmadiha coal block in favour of CTL”.
The allegations against Ray pertain to the period when the Vajpayee government had lost the vote of confidence in Parliament and was acting as a caretaker government.
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