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Ex-Jharkhand CM Koda, former coal secretary Gupta convicted

Our Bureaus Kolkata/New Delhi | Updated on January 09, 2018 Published on December 13, 2017

MAdhu koda

Court to decide on quantum of punishment today

A special CBI court on Wednesday held former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda, former coal secretary HC Gupta, former Jharkhand chief secretary Ashok Kumar Basu and one more person guilty for irregularities in allotting the Rajhara North coal block in Jharkhand to Kolkata-based Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd (VISUL).

The court will hear the arguments on the quantum of punishment on Thursday. Depending on the charges, the jail term can vary between one and seven years, say legal sources.

With this, four out of 30 cases pertaining to the coal block allotment scam have been resolved. The court had, in the past, awarded verdicts in connection with irregularities in allotment of blocks to Jharkhand Ispat Pvt Ltd, Rathi Steel and Power Ltd (RSPL) and Kamal Sponge Steel and Power (KSSPL).

With Thursday’s case, four companies and six of their top officials; Koda, Gupta, Basu, and two other former senior officials of the Coal Ministry have been found guilty. Gupta is already serving a two-year jail term in connection with the KSSPL case.

Gupta was held guilty for criminal abuse of power for the VISUL case. He had been chairing the all important screening committee as Coal Secretary (January 2006 to November 2008). VISUL applied for allocation of the block in January 2007. According to reports, though the Steel Ministry didn’t recommend the application, the screening committee headed by Gupta allotted the block. He was also accused of concealing the fact that the application was not supported by a due recommendation from then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who held additional charge of the Coal Ministry.

Interestingly, the investigating agency could not establish any proof of Gupta benefiting from the move. But his nearly three-year tenure saw the largest number of allocations — 129 — against a total allocation of 216 since 1993.

As for Koda, according to a Frontline report in 2009, he “charged” ₹2 crore to ₹20 crore for signing MoUs. The recommendations for access to captive mineral assets were sold at a price of ₹30 crore to ₹80 crore each.

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Published on December 13, 2017
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