Delhi High Court today sought the CBI’s response on an appeal by director of Gondwana Ispat Ltd challenging his conviction and sentence of four years in a coal scam case relating to the allocation of a coal block in Maharashtra. Justice S P Garg issued notice to the CBI on the plea by Ashok Daga who has also sought suspension of his jail term till the pendency of his appeal. He listed the matter for further hearing on May 28. A trial court had on May 1 awarded four-year jail term to Daga and imposed a fine of Rs 1 crore on him and Rs 60 lakh on the firm. Daga has been in custody since April 27 after the court had held that he and the company were guilty of cheating and criminal conspiracy to get the Majra coal block in Maharashtra allocated to it.
The director and the company were convicted under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 420 (cheating) of the IPC and also for the substantive offence under section 420 of the IPC. Gondwana Ispat Ltd (GIL) was allocated the Majra coal block in 2003 and an FIR was lodged against it in 2014. The CBI had alleged in the chargesheet that it had found during the probe that Daga had made “unsubstantiated claim even towards the financial preparedness and the tie-up regarding iron ore with Odisha government”. According to the CBI, on April 22, 2000, Daga had applied to the MoC for allotment of the Ekarjuna Extension coal block in Maharashtra to set up a washery cum sponge iron plant of 60,000 tonne per year capacity in Warora area.
This application was rejected. On September 25, 2001, Daga applied for allotment of Warora West coal block in Maharashtra to set up 1.2 lakh tonne per annum washery cum sponge iron plant. the CBI alleged that in continuation of its earlier application, GIL requested MoC to consider the allotment of Majra-Belgaon coal blocks, having extractable reserve of 8 to 10 million tonnes as an alternate to the Warora North coal block. MoC, in its 18th Screening Committee meeting held on May 5, 2003, considered the application of M/s GIL and Chandrapur Ispat Ltd for allocation of Majra-Belgaon coal block. The agency had said that based on the documents and representation submitted by the company, the ministry on October 29, 2003, reserved Majra coal block for M/s GIL subject to certain conditions.
CBI had alleged that during the probe it was found that though after allocation of the coal block in 2003 Daga had filed an undertaking to MOC that he will install a plant or carry out its extension and develop the coal mine, he sold off the company to Nand Kishore Sarda while earning huge profit in October 2005.