Delivering its first order in the coal block allocation cases, a special court Monday held Jharkhand Ispat Private Limited (JIPL) and its two directors guilty of criminal conspiracy and cheating in the allocation of the North Dhadu coal block in Jharkhand.
Special Judge Bharat Parashar, whose court is presently hearing 21 cases related to alleged irregularities in coal block allocations during UPA rule, convicted JIPL and its directors, R S Rungta and R C Rungta, and ordered that they be taken into custody. The quantum of sentence will be pronounced March 31.
“…it is crystal clear that the accused persons fraudulently with dishonest intention deceived Screening Committee, Ministry of Coal (MOC) and thereby Government of India on the basis of false representation qua the issue of land and as regard the installed/projected capacity of their end-use project so as to procure allotment of a coal block in favour of JIPL…The intention to defraud on the part of accused persons is writ large on the face of record,” Parashar said.
JIPL and its two directors were facing trial for “grossly misrepresenting” several aspects — regarding land in possession or being acquired by them, and their existing and projected production capacities to show an advanced stage of preparedness — before the Ministry of Steel and Ministry of Coal to “inflate” their claim and “induce” the screening committee and Ministry of Coal to allocate a coal block.
Parashar said all representations made by the Rungtas before the government were “per se false” and “with dishonest intention”.
“It is also clear that the accused persons as a result induced Screening Committee and thereby MOC, Government of India to allocate a coal block to company JIPL into believing the said representations as true even though the same were false,” Parashar said.
On the allegation of misrepresenting facts on land possession, the court said that the “deed of agreement to sell” the land to Rungtas was a “sham document” created only to back “the false claim” made before the Ministry of Steel and Ministry of Coal to secure allotment of a coal block.
On the allegation of misrepresenting facts on production capacity to show an advanced stage of preparedness, the court said that the Rungtas left “no stone unturned” to ensure they were “given a higher priority” by the screening committee. It said reports on the existing and proposed capacities of the project were “found to (be) wrong and misleading”.
The court, however, acquitted the Rungtas of the charges of forgery, stating that these were not proved: “Since the basic ingredient of the offence of forgery — that the document in question should amount to making a false document — is not made out, so the charge for the offence under section 468 IPC and consequently for the offence under section 471 IPC as against accused R S Rungta cannot hold ground.”
Parashar said that “mere non arraying” of Ministry of Coal officers as accused in the present case does not in any manner “lessen the act of criminality committed” by the Rungtas. “Thus by non-examination of any other member of the Screening Committee, no prejudice can be said to have been caused to the accused persons as minutes of the Screening Committee followed by approval from Minister of Coal and consequent issuance of letter of allocation speak for themselves,” he said.
The court said Rungtas changed and contradicted their stand on a number of issues, including information on actual land acquired by them or steps taken towards acquiring the remaining land for establishing end-use project and kilns.