Former chief minister of Jharkhand, Madhu Koda was given three years imprisonment and a total fine of Rs 25 lakh on Saturday morning by a special CBI court in the Jharkhand Coal scam. Last week, Koda was convicted in the case of illegal allocation of a coal block in Jharkhand to a Kolkata-based firm. The allocation of the Rajhara North coal block is one of the instances of alleged inefficient allocation of coal blocks during 2004 to 2009 by then UPA government at the Centre. Dubbed the coal scam, the matter became a huge political controversy. Koda, along with the former secretary of the coal ministry HC Gupta, former chief secretary of Jharkhand AK Basu and the private firm concerned — Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd was found guilty.
Besides Koda, Gupta and the firm, the other accused in the case include A K Basu, two public servants namely Basant Kumar Bhattacharya and Bipin Bihari Singh, VISUL’s Director Vaibhav Tulsyan, Koda’s alleged close aide Vijay Joshi and chartered accountant Navin Kumar Tulsyan. The court had earlier granted bail to eight accused after they had appeared before it in pursuance to the summons issued to them. They were summoned as accused after the court took cognizance of alleged offences under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) read with 420 (cheating) and 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servants) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The CBI, during the arguments, 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 for coal block allocation, the 36th Screening Committee recommended the block to the accused firm.
The investigating agency also said that Gupta, who was chairman of the screening committee, had allegedly concealed facts from then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who then headed the Coal Ministry too, that Jharkhand had not recommended VISUL for allocation of a coal block. Koda, Basu and two accused public servants conspired to favour VISUL in the coal block allocation, the CBI added. The accused have refuted the allegations levelled against them.