Coal Scam in India
Former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda and ex-coal secretary H C Gupta were on Saturday sentenced to three years imprisonment by a special court...
Former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda and ex-coal secretary H C Gupta were on Saturday sentenced to three years imprisonment by a special court here in a case of coal block allocation scam. Besides the jail term, the special court also imposed a fine of Rs 25 lakh on Koda and Rs 1 lakh on Gupta.
Former Jharkhand chief secretary A K Basu and Vijay Joshi, a close aide of the then chief minister, were also awarded jail term of three years for indulging in corrupt practices and hatching criminal conspiracy in allocation of Rajhara North coal block in Jharkhand to a Kolkata-based private company, Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd (VISUL).
The convicts were tried for offences under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) read with 420 (cheating) and 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servants) of the IPC and under provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act. The illegal coal blocks allocation took place during Congress-led UPA's rule between 2004 and 2009 and was dubbed as Jharkhand coal scam that stirred a huge political controversy.
The Jharkhand coal scam had hit the headlines in 2012 after an audit report by Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) revealed that the country lost up to Rs. 1.86 lakh crore due to inefficient coal blocks allocation.
The number of allocated blocks between 1993 and 2010 stood at 194. The CAG report said that for over a decade, mining rights were allotted to private firms at very low prices. Following the report,
the Supreme Court cancelled the coal blocks allocations in 2014. Thereafter, the Lok Sabha passed a bill paving way for fresh auction of the coal blocks de-allocated by the court. A case against 46-year-old Madhu Koda, who was the Chief Minister of Jharkhand from September 2006 to August 2008, was filed in December 2014.
HC Gupta, who was the Coal Secretary for two years under the Congress-led UPA government, was accused of playing a leading role in the massive fraud and has been accused in eight cases.
He was convicted along with two other former bureaucrats in a case related to the allocation of a coal mining block in Madhya Pradesh to a private company in May this year. It was the first coal scam case in which senior government officials were held guilty. (Courtesy: NDTV)