A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Court has convicted three former bureaucrats including former Coal Secretary HC Gupta in the coal scam case, today.
The other two bureaucrats who are accused in the case are KS Kropha who was Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Coal, and KC Samria, who was a director in charge of coal allocation.
According to a report, the former secretary along with the other two bureaucrats were found guilty on charges of corruption and conspiracy. The case relates to the allocation of a coal mining block “Thesgora-B Rudrapuri” in Madhya Pradesh to a private company, KSSPL. This is the first case in which the senior government officials have been held guilty in any coal scam case.
On May 22, the court will pronounce the order on quantum of sentence The court, however, acquitted chartered accountant Amit Goyal in the case.
Under the Congress-led UPA government, Gupta (69) was Coal Secretary for two years, before he retired in 2008. He is the main accused in the massive swindle dubbed the coal scam. He was further accused of not following a transparent auctioning system and causing losses running into crores to the taxpayer.
Besides these three bureaucrats, the court also convicted the firm KSSPL and its managing director Pawan Kumar Ahluwalia.
Mr Gupta had requested the court for a joint trial of the cases against him, citing his advancing age and precarious finances. But his petition was rejected as the court said the cases were at different stages. The former Coal Secretary on August 16, told the Court that he intended to “face trial from inside jail” and withdraw his personal bond to secure bail due to financial difficulties. However, he later withdrew his plea.
The CBI, during the hearing, alleged that the application filed by KSSPL for the coal block was incomplete and was supposed to be rejected by the ministry as it was not in accordance with the guidelines issued. The CBI had charged that the firm had misrepresented its net worth and existing capacity, adding that state government had also not recommended the firm for the allocation of any coal block.
During the arguments, the accused however denied the allegations. Mr Gupta had claimed that then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had given the “final approval” in the case. The CBI, however, refuted his claim and said that Dr Singh, who was also holding the portfolio of Coal Ministry at that time, was “kept in the dark” and misled.
Around eight different charge sheets have been filed against Gupta and proceedings are going on individually.