The CBI has urged a special court here to award the maximum punishment of seven years jail term to former coal secretary H C Gupta for cheating and criminal conspiracy in allocation of a coal block to a private firm. Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar, who has held Gupta guilty in the case, will pronounce his judgement on the quantum of sentence on July 22.
Gupta, who was the coal secretary from December 31, 2005 to November 2008, then joint secretary K S Kropha and then director K C Samaria in the coal ministry were held guilty by the court for irregularities in allocation of the Thesgora-B Rudrapuri coal block in Madhya Pradesh to Kamal Sponge Steel and Power Ltd (KSSPL).
Senior public prosecutor V K Sharma told the court that the convicts had committed an economic offence and urged it not to grant any leniency to them. He submitted that economic offences were graver than the other crimes and should be dealt with firmly.
The convicts, however, sought leniency, citing old age and no previous conviction in any other case. On May 19, the court had convicted Gupta, Kropha and Samaria. It also held the firm and its managing director Pawan Kumar Ahluwalia guilty of the offences, including cheating.
The court, however, acquitted chartered accountant Amit Goyal in the case. The CBI had in October 2012 lodged an FIR in the matter, but on March 27, 2014 it filed a closure report. The court rejected the closure report on October 13, 2014 and summoned Gupta and others as accused.
The CBI had alleged that the firm had misrepresented its net worth and the existing capacity, adding that the state government had also not recommended the firm for the allocation of any coal block.
The court had on October 14 last year framed charges against them, observing that former prime minister Manmohan Singh was kept in the “dark” by Gupta, who had prima facie violated the law and the trust reposed in him on the issue of coal block allocation.
Ten more coal scam cases are pending against Gupta and the proceedings are going on separately. The Supreme Court had last year dismissed his plea seeking a joint trial in all these cases.