Coal scam: Court frames charges against former coal secy and 5 others, starts trial

A special court today framed charges against former coal secretary HC Gupta and five others under various sections of the Criminal Procedure Code, including cheating and criminal conspiracy, in a case arising from the coal blocks allocation scam.

Special Judge Bharat Parashar also framed charges against ex-joint secretary in ministry of coal KS Kropha and the then director (CA-I) in the coal ministry, KC Samria as also private firm Vikash Metals and Power Ltd (VMPL) and its two officials in the coal blocks allocation scam case.

The special court also initiated trial proceedings against all accused in the case, in which the CBI had submitted a closure report. The court had then asked the probe agency to further investigate the matter and submit its findings.

Gupta, an accused in several coal scam cases and presently out on bail, had recently told the court that he intended to ''face trial from inside the jail'' and withdraw his personal bond to secure bail due to financial difficulties.

He had also refused to accept the court's offer to avail an advocate from New Delhi Legal Aid Services Authority or an amicus curiae appointed by the court. His application is presently pending before the court.

''Charge for the offence under section 409 IPC and for the offences under PC Act are made out against accused Gupta.

The case pertains to alleged irregularities in allocation of Moira and Madhujore (North and South) coal blocks in West Bengal to VMPL. In September 2012, the CBI had registered an FIR in the case.

All the accused pleaded not guilty, after which the court fixed the matter for further hearing on 9 September.

While ordering framing of charges in the present case, the court had said ''prima facie'' offences of criminal conspiracy, cheating and criminal breach of trust by public servants under IPC and various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act are made out against the accused.

''Keeping in view the overall facts and circumstances of the case coupled with the submissions made, I am of the considered opinion that prima facie charge for the offences under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and for the offences under sections 120-B, 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servants), 420 (cheating) of IPC and under sections 13(1)(c) and 13(1)(d) (criminal misconduct by public servants) of the PC Act is made out against all the accused…,'' the judge had said.

The court also said prima facie substantive offences company M/s Vikash Metal and Power Ltd (VMPL), Patni and Mallick,'' it said.

The CBI had on January 28 placed before the court a Central government order according sanction to prosecute Kropha and Samria for their alleged involvement in the case.

It had also filed a report on its further probe in the case. Regarding Gupta, CBI had said that lapses in processing the application were found on his part too, but since he had retired, no action was being recommended.

CBI had said that VMPL wrongly claimed that it had been allocated 300 acres of land in Begusarai in Bihar by the Bihar Area Development Authority.

The agency had found that the land was de-allocated and directors of the company failed to inform the screening committee members about it, it had said.