Millennium Post

Court orders framing of charges against ex-Coal secy

A special court on Wednesday ordered framing of charges against ex-Coal Secretary H C Gupta and five others, including two senior public servants, in a case of alleged irregularities in the allocation of a coal block in Odisha in January 2008.

Besides Gupta, Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar also ordered framing of charges against two senior public servants, K S Kropha and K C Samria, M/s Navbharat Power Pvt Ltd (NPPL), now known as Brahmani Thermal Power Pvt Ltd (BTPPL), its chairman P Trivikrama Prasad and vice chairman Y Harish Chandra Prasad.

The case pertains to alleged irregularities in allocation of Rampia and dip side of Rampia coal block in Odisha to NPPL. While Kropha was then Joint Secretary in the Coal Ministry (MoC), Samria was the then Director (Coal Allocation -I section) there.

“It is prima facie clear that the false claims or the misrepresentations had the effect of deceiving Screening Committee and thereby MoC, Government of India so as to induce it to allocate a coal block in favour of company NPPL. In fact prima facie it is also clear that Ministry of Power would not have made any recommendation in favour of NPPL to MOC if no such false claim as regard its net-worth or land would have been made,” the court said.

It said that prima facie charges under sections of 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servants) and 420 (cheating) of the IPC and under several provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act were made out against all the six accused.

The court fixed October 21 for formally framing of charges against the accused.

The court had on August 19 last year granted bail to the accused after they appeared before it in pursuance to summons.

CBI, in its charge sheet, had alleged that the accused had misrepresented facts, including inflated net worth, to bag the coal block. It had alleged that NPPL had fraudulently claimed in its application that it was supported by Globeleq Singapore Pvt Ltd, Navbharat Ventures Ltd and Mahalaxmi Group Ltd. 

CBI had earlier filed a charge sheet against NPPL, P Trivikrama Prasad and Y Harish Chandra Prasad for the alleged offences of criminal conspiracy and cheating under IPC and had said in its final report that no offence was found to be committed by the public servants.

However, the court on November 12, 2014 disagreed with the conclusion drawn by CBI regarding the role of public servants and had observed that acts of Gupta, Kropha and Samria in overlooking alleged misrepresentation by NPPL for acquiring the coal block, prima facie, amounted to criminal misconduct.

It had noted that it was prima facie clear that the decision to allocate coal block to NPPL was taken by the MoC officers and screening committee without keeping public interest in mind.

It had directed CBI to further investigate the case and place relevant records before the competent authority to consider according sanction to prosecute Kropha and Samria, who are still in government service, for alleged offences under the PC Act.

The competent authority had accorded sanction to prosecute Kropha and Samria under the anti-graft law.

The court, while summoning these accused, had said that Gupta had also allegedly committed offence under section 409 of IPC read with section 13(1)(c) of PC Act and since he has retired, there was no bar in taking cognisance against him under the anti-graft law.
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