The Supreme Court today rejected the plea of former Coal Secretary H C Gupta, facing prosecution in several coal block allocation cases, for holding joint trial saying clubbing of cases would lead to “hotchpotch”.
A bench comprising justices Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Amitava Roy dismissed the plea by Harish Chandra Gupta seeking joint trial in all the cases on the ground that the FIRs were common and the alleged offences pertained to same transaction.
“There would be hotchpotch if such a prayer seeking clubbing of trials is entertained. How can the defence be same if the conspiracies are different? Looking at the facts of the cases, we are satisfied that they are not the part of the same transaction,” the bench said.
Gupta, who was the then chairman of the screening committee for allocation of coal blocks, in his plea contended that all the cases against him comprised similar charges and he cannot be tried separately.
Senior advocate Aman Lekhi, appearing for Gupta, said that eight different charge sheets have been filed against him and proceeding are going on individually.
“This is not proper as mandate of law says that there should be a joint trial in all the cases. In each case, the recommendations by the screening committee are composite and unanimous. In all cases, the material witnesses are common, so there should be joint trial,” Lekhi said.
Senior advocate Amrendra Sharan, appearing for CBI, informed the bench that 52 cases have been registered in various coal allocations out of which judgements in two cases have been pronounced.
In May, a special court had also dismissed Gupta’s plea seeking joint trial in several cases against him in the coal block allocation scam saying all the matters were at different stages.
Gupta has been charged under various sections including 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servants) and 420 (cheating) of IPC and under provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act.
(Source : PTI)