New Delhi: Court rejects CBI closure report in coal block case

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Coal block: Court rejects CBI report
New Delhi, Oct 13:  A Delhi court on Monday rejected the closure report filed in the coal block allocation case against Kamal Sponge Steel and Power Ltd. and summoned the firm, one of its directors and former coal secretary H.C. Gupta as accused.

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Special Judge Bharat Parashar summoned the Madhya Pradesh-based company and its managing director Pawan Kumar Ahluwalia, senior official and Chartered Accountant, Amit Goyal, Gupta and two government officials as accused in the case.

The court directed Gupta, Ahluwalia and Goyal with ministry of coal (MOC) then Joint Secretary, K.S. Kropha, and one of its then director K.C. Samaria to appear before it Oct 31, after rejecting the CBI's closure report.

"The investigation as has been carried out in the present matter is not only sketchy in nature but seems to have been carried out while first deciding the end result and thereafter to carry out the investigation and prepare the final report accordingly," the court said.

The court observed that no investigation worth the name has been carried out in the matter and report was like a statement of plea of defence of the accused persons rather than the report of any investigation.

The court found sufficient evidence to proceed against the accused under sections dealing with criminal conspiracy, cheating and criminal breach of trust. It also found evidence against Gupta to proceed with provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The CBI lodged an FIR accusing the company and others of allegedly misrepresenting facts, including inflated net worth, to acquire coal blocks.

After the probe, the CBI filed a closure report, saying it has not found sufficient evidence against the firm and its director to proceed with the case.

The court held that Samaria, Kropha as a member secretary, and Gupta as chairman, screening committee, at that time committed offence of criminal breach of trust by favouring Kamal Sponge.

CBI filed a closure report saying it has not found sufficient evidence

Citing the Supreme Court order that held the allotment of coal blocks illegal and the order to cancel allotment of all such coal blocks including the one allotted to KSSPL, the court said, "Thus the issue that the coal blocks were alloted illegally and in an arbitrary manner is also no longer in dispute."

The court observed that the screening committee members' proceedings were completely silent over allotment of coal blocks to Kamal Sponge, and said, "Prima facie the reason could be none else but the fact that the Screening Committee was in active collusion with M/s KSSPL and its directors, and the entire proceedings of Screening Committee was merely an eye-wash."

"This omission to not to scrutinize the applications or to allot coal blocks in a clandestine manner without explaining the reasons as to why these companies have been selected and why the other companies were not selected not only amounts to an act of criminal misconduct on the part of public servants involved, but also amounts to allowing misappropriation of natural resources of the country by private companies in furtherance of a criminal conspiracy," the court said.

The court noted that the state of Madhya Pradesh had not made any recommendation of coal block in favour of Kamal Sponge.

The court said that the investigating officer seemed to have arrived at a conclusion primarily on the basis of the statement of the accused persons only.

IANS

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