In fresh trouble for ex-Coal Secretary H C Gupta, already facing prosecution in over eight coal scam cases, a former Chief Vigilance Commissioner on Friday raised doubt over his role in recommending allocation of a coal block to a private company.
Appearing before Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar, ex- CVC Pradeep Kumar claimed he had attended the 34th Screening Committee meeting, chaired by Gupta, on September 22, 2006, but no decision was taken on the issue of recommending allocation of any coal block to the accused firm Pushp Steels and Mining Pvt Ltd (PSMPL).
However, after registration of the case, he got to know that as per the documents, the decision on recommending allocation of the coal block to the company was made at the September 22, 2006, meeting of the screening committee itself, he said.
Gupta and PSMPL are currently facing trial for allegedly entering into a conspiracy in the coal scam case with the CBI claiming that the screening committee, chaired by Gupta, had recommended allocation of Brahmapuri coal block to the firm despite the fact that neither the state government nor the Ministry of Steel had made any such recommendation.
Deposing as a prosecution witness, the former CVC said that in 2006, he was Special Secretary in the Ministry of Coal but he had nothing to do with coal allocation section.
On September 7 and 8, 2006, however, he chaired the Screening Committee meetings as Gupta was on tour due to an accident at some coal mine and only presentations were made by the some appellant firms in the said meetings, he said.
On September 22, 2006, on being asked by Gupta, he attended the meeting of the screening committee, which was headed by former Coal Secretary, he said, adding that neither any inter se priority chart was prepared, nor any merit-wise discussion took place.
Subsequently, he learnt after the registration of the FIR in the case that PSMPL was recommended for allocation of a coal block and the date of the recommendation was September 22, 2006, he said.
Gupta and PSMPL are facing trial for alleged offences under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant) of IPC and under relevant provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.