Former coal secretary H.C. Gupta and the two IAS officers are accused in the irregular allocation of coal blocks in West Bengal to a private firm.
New Delhi: A Delhi court Wednesday sentenced former coal secretary H.C. Gupta to three years in prison, days after he was convicted in a case stemming from irregularities in the allocation of coal blocks in West Bengal under UPA-II.
Two other IAS officers — K.S. Kropha and K.C. Samria — convicted in the case were also awarded three years in prison. All three have also been fined Rs 50,000 each.
Gupta, a retired IAS officer of the 1971 batch, was the chairman of the screening committee that allocated the coal blocks, while Kropha was the joint secretary in the Ministry of Coal at the time and Samria a director.
The private firm to which the blocks were allocated, Vikash Metals and Power Limited (VMPL), has been fined Rs 1 lakh. The court also sentenced its managing director Vikash Patni and authorised signatory Anand Mallick to four years in jail. While Patni has been fined Rs 25 lakh, Mallick will have to give Rs 2 lakh.
On 30 November, special CBI judge Bharat Parashar had convicted six people in the case, making it the third judgment in the Rs 1.86 lakh crore coal scam.
In his judgment, judge Parashar observed that Gupta, who served as the coal secretary from December 2005 to November 2008, as well as Kropha and Samria had withheld information from the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who held additional charge as coal minister.
The judge said the three officers had distorted certain facts while recommending the private company for the allotment of two coal blocks.
“…It is clear that the three accused public servants… clearly abused their position as public servants in order to obtain the allocation of the Moira-Madhujore coal block in favour of VMPL for its proposed plant at Bihar and also for its existing plant at Purulia West Bengal,” the judgment read.
Third conviction for Gupta
Gupta has been convicted in two other coal scam cases as well, pertaining to the firms Kamal Sponge Steel and Power Ltd (KSSPL) and Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd (VISUL).
Gupta was sentenced to two and three years in jail, respectively, but was out on bail before being apprehended in light of the 30 November judgment.
This is the second conviction for Kropha and Samria, who were convicted in the Kamal Sponge case.
In a draft report dated March 2014, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had pegged the coal scam’s cost to the exchequer at Rs 1.86 lakh crore between 2004 and 2009 owing to the Centre’s decision to allot coal blocks to private companies and public sector units (PSU) instead of auctioning them.
However, in 2012, the CBI had already initiated an inquiry into allegations of irregularities following a complaint filed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which was the opposition party at the time. Over a dozen private firms were consequently booked.