Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had no reason to presume that then Coal Secretary H C Gupta recommended a non-compliant private firm for coal block allocation in Madhya Pradesh, a special court here has said. Special Judge Bharat Parashar, who convicted Gupta for irregularities in allocation of Madhya Pradesh based Thesgora- B Rudrapuri coal block to Kamal Sponge Steel and Power Ltd (KSSPL), noted that the former coal secretary made “dishonest misrepresentation” before Singh.
Singh, who had to act only upon the recommendations of the Screening Committee of which Gupta was the chairman, was then holding the portfolio of Ministry of Coal (MOC) besides others.
The court said there was no reason for the Prime Minister to presume that the guidelines had not been complied with. It said it was “apparent” that Singh proceeded to consider the Screening Committee recommendation on the assumption that the applications must have been checked in MOC for their eligibility and completeness or that the guidelines must have been duly followed even by the Committee.
“While forwarding the file to Prime Minister as Minister of Coal for approval of the recommendation of the Screening Committee, it was nowhere mentioned by any of the MOC officers, much less by Gupta, that the applications have not been checked for their eligibility and completeness,” it said.
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 allocating the coal block to the firm.