The CBI today sought from a Delhi court the maximum seven-year jail term for former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda, ex-coal secretary H C Gupta and others who have been convicted in a coal scam case, terming them as "criminals holding office".
The CBI today sought from a Delhi court the maximum seven-year jail term for former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda, ex-coal secretary H C Gupta and others who have been convicted in a coal scam case, terming them as “criminals holding office”. Special Judge Bharat Parashar will pronounce on December 16 its order on quantum of punishment for the convicts, who have sought leniency from the court. Besides Koda and Gupta, ex-Jharkhand chief secretary A K Basu and Koda’s close aide Vijay Joshi, along with the company Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd (VISUL) were yesterday held guilty of corruption and criminal conspiracy in the allocation of of Rajhara North coal block in Jharkhand to Kolkata-based private company VISUL. The CBI said that considering their official position and conduct, there was no sufficient ground for leniency. “They are criminals holding the office. Its a classic case of corruption involving high public servants,” the CBI said, seeking imposition of maximum jail term and fine on the convicts. It also sought imposition of heavy financial penalty on the convicted company VISUL.
The agency said Koda was accused in some other coal scam cases, while Gupta was convicted in another coal scam case and that there were more than ten cases pending against the former bureaucrat. 46-year-old Koda sought leniency from the court claiming that he was suffering from various aliments and had a family to look after. He also said this was his first conviction in a criminal case and his conduct has remained above board during the trial as he had regularly appeared before the court. Gupta, 70, told the court that he was the sole bread earner whose only source of income was his pension received after retirement from an “unblemished career” and urged for minimum punishment and a fine of not more than Rs 50,000. 69-year-old Basu claimed that he has been operated for heart ailments twice and has also to take care of his ailing wife.
Maintaining that he had regularly appeared before the court during the trial, Basu claimed he had a 45-year long “unblemished service record” and no allegation has been made against him in the entire matter that he had obtained any financial gain. Joshi, 54, also sought leniency from the court saying he was suffering from various ailments and had to look after a family consisting of an aged mother and ailing wife. He said he was a shareholder of the company for which the consideration amount is yet to be paid. The company’s counsel submitted that it did not have the financial strength to pay a heavy amount. Beside the five convicted, the court had acquitted four persons — VISUL’s former director Vaibhav Tulsyan and two public servants Basant Kumar Bhattacharya and Bipin Bihari Singh and chartered accountant Navin Kumar Tulsyan — of all charges levelled against them.
All nine were earlier summoned as accused after the court had taken cognisance of offences under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) read with 420 (cheating) and 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servants) of IPC and under provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act. The CBI had alleged that the firm had applied for allocation of Rajhara North coal block on January 8, 2007. It said although the Jharkhand government and Steel Ministry did not recommend VISUL’s case for coal block allocation, the 36th Screening Committee recommended the block to the accused firm. The CBI said that Gupta, who was chairman of the screening committee, had concealed facts from then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who at that time headed the Coal Ministry too, that Jharkhand had not recommended VISUL for allocation of a coal block.
All the accused have refuted the allegations levelled against them.