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Coal scam: Court summons Madhu Koda, eight others as accused

Former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda and eight others were today summoned as accused in a coalscam case by a special court which said public servants involved in the coal allocation process "abused their official position" to facilitate misappropriation by the accused firm.

Besides Koda, the court summoned as accused two retired IAS officers, ex-Coal Secretary H C Gupta, former Jharkhand Chief Secretary Ashok Kumar Basu and six others, including two serving government officials, Basant Kumar Bhattacharya and Bipin Bihari Singh, for February 18.

Kolkata-based Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd (VISUL), along with its director Vaibhav Tulsyan, Chartered Accountant Navin Kumar Tulsyan and Koda's alleged close aide Vijay Joshi, were also summoned by the court in a case pertaining to allocation of coal blocks to the accused firm in Jharkhand's Rajhara North (Central and Eastern) coal block.

"However, from a bare perusal of the overall facts and circumstances, it is prima facie clear that there was a concerted effort by way of a criminal conspiracy on the part of H C Gupta, Madhu Koda, A K Basu, Basant Kumar Bhattacharya, Bipin Bihari Singh along with Vijay Joshi, Vaibhav Tulsyan, Navin Kumar Tulsyan and VISUL to facilitate misappropriation of the important nationalised natural resources of the country i.e. coal by VISUL," Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar said.

"The public servants involved in the entire coal block allocation process thus abused their official position as such public servants, while acting in contravention of directions in which the duties attached to their offices were to be discharged to ensure distribution of the important nationalised natural resources of the country objectively and in a transparent manner," the court, which took cognisance of the charge sheet filed by CBI, said in its 20-page order.

The court took cognisance of the offences under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) read with 420 (cheating) and 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servants) of the IPC and under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The court said, "Accordingly, summons of the case be issued to accused company M/s Vini Iron & Steel Udyog Ltd and all the other eight accused persons ...for the offence under sections 120-B/420/409 IPC and section 13(1)(c) and 13(1)(d) read with 13(2) of PC Act and for the substantive offences thereof."

Out of the nine accused, CBI has not chargesheeted Navin Kumar Tulsyan saying no prosecutable evidence could come on record during the course of investigation.

Regarding Navin Kumar Tulsyan, the court said, being the chartered accountant, he allegedly gave a false certificate to facilitate VISUL to misrepresent about its net-worth and turn-over to acquire the coal block.

The court, in its order, said there was no need for sanction under section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act to prosecute Gupta and Basu as they have since retired.

Similarly, it said Koda's term of the Legislative assembly during which he was the Chief Minister of Jharkhand, has also expired so there was no need for sanction to prosecute him.

Regarding Bhattacharya, who was then section officer in department of Mines in Jharkhand, and Singh, the then Director Mines in Jharkhand, the court said that sanction to prosecute them for alleged offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act has already been accorded by Jharkhand government and placed on record.

Detailing the roles of public servants in the case, the judge observed that they had failed to take all reasonable precautions to safeguard the public interest, as was required of them by the law.

"By their acts of omission and commission, they facilitated M/s VISUL and other private parties to mis- appropriate the important nationalised natural resources of the country i.e. coal," it said.

"All the public servants as above, thus failed to pass the test of observing those reasonable safeguards against detriment to the public interest, which having regard to all circumstances it was their duty to have adopted," it added.

The CBI, in its charge sheet, had said that VISUL had applied for allocation of Rajhara North coal block on January 8, 2007 to the Ministry of Coal.
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