A special court today ordered framing of charges against former Coal Secretary H C Gupta and a private firm for allegedly entering into a conspiracy in a coal scam case, saying the acts attributed to him prima facie show that he had favoured the company.
Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar put Gupta and Pushp Steels and Mining Pvt Ltd (PSMPL) on trial for alleged offences under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant) of IPC and under the relevant provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The court, however, discharged PSMPL’s Director Atul Jain in the case, saying “a prima facie conclusion of existence of criminal conspiracy between accused H C Gupta and accused company PSMPL cannot be extended to cover Atul Jain also.”
The court has now fixed the matter for February 26 for formal framing of charges against Gupta and the firm.
The case pertains to alleged irregularities in allocation of Brahmapuri coal block in Madhya Pradesh to PSMPL.
While ordering framing of charges, the judge said, ” I may again mention at the cost of repetition that all the acts attributed to accused H C Gupta and as delineated above prima facie presents strong circumstances leading to only one inference that accused H C Gupta so acted only in order to favour accused company M/s PSMPL in furtherance of a criminal conspiracy hatched between them.”
The court also observed that Gupta was “not being simply prosecuted for making recommendation in favour of company PSMPL, being Chairman of Screening Committee, and which act can certainly be stated to have been done by him in discharge of his official duty, but he is being prosecuted for entering into a criminal conspiracy and committing acts of criminal misconduct and also acts constituting the offence of criminal breach of trust.”
While discharging Jain, the court observed there was no incriminating evidence on record which warrants framing of charge against him.
CBI had earlier alleged before the court that Gupta had played an “active role” in the conspiracy to allocate the coal block to PSMPL and had violated guidelines of the Ministry of Coal.
CBI had earlier claimed that the screening committee,
headed by Gupta, had recommended allocation of Brahmapuri coal block to PSMPL despite the fact that the state government as well as Ministry of Steel had not recommended the firm for allocation of the block.
Gupta, Jain and the company had denied all the allegations levelled by CBI and had argued in the court that they had not conspired with each other to extend any benefit to the firm.
Jain had alleged in the court that the agency had put up disjointed facts to create a semblance of conspiracy which did not exist.
The court had earlier granted bail to Gupta and Jain.
It had summoned Gupta, PSMPL and Jain as accused for their alleged involvement in allocation of Brahmapuri coal block to the firm which allegedly resulted in loss.
According to the agency, PSMPL was allotted coal block on the recommendation by screening committee for its proposed Sponge Iron End Use Project in Durg district.
An FIR was lodged against the firm and others in April 2013 and CBI had alleged that PSMPL had misrepresented facts while applying for the coal block.