A special court trying the coal block allocation scam today ordered framing of charges of corruption, criminal conspiracy, and cheating against former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda, ex-coal secretary H C Gupta, former Jharkhand chief secretary Ashok Kumar Basu, and six others ahead of putting them on trial.
Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar also ordered framing of charges against two public servants, Basant Kumar Bhattacharya and Bipin Bihari Singh, Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd (VISUL), its director Vaibhav Tulsyan, Koda's alleged close aide Vijay Joshi and chartered accountant Navin Kumar Tulsyan.
These nine accused will be charged for offences under various sections of IPC, including 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 420 (cheating) and under relevant provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
"...a bare perusal of the facts and circumstances of the case clearly suggest that though various accused persons acted at different times, they all were in tandem to favour VISUL in somehow procuring sole allocation of Rajhara North (central and eastern) coal block in its favour," the judge said.
"...it is prima facie clear that they all were acting in pursuance of a criminal conspiracy whose sole objective was to accommodate VISUL in Rajhara North (central and eastern) coal block," the court added.
The court observed that the Jharkhand government's recommendation for the sole allocation of the coal block in favour of VISUL was not accepted by the coal ministry.
"However, the blatant and brazen manner in which various public servants acted in conspiracy with the private parties involved, so as to procure not only allotment of a coal block but also excess coal is prima facie writ large on the face of the record," the court remarked.
It said the overall facts and circumstances of the case thus give rise to grave suspicion against all the accused persons, warranting framing of charge for various offences.
The court said that criminal conspiracy was prima facie made out against all the nine accused and criminal misconduct against Koda, Basu, Singh and Bhattacharya.
''I have ordered framing of charges against all the accused... put up for formal framing of charges on July 31,'' the judge said.
The court has fixed 31 July for formal framing of charges and directed all the accused to remain present in the court on that day.
The case pertains to the alleged irregularities in allocation of the Rajhara North coal block in Jharkhand to Kolkata-based VISUL.