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Coal scam: Former Coal Secy H C Gupta, others summoned as accused (PTI)

Former Coal Secretary H C Gupta and five others were today summoned as accused in a coal blocks allocation case by a special court, which refused to accept CBI’s closure report, observing that probe carried out by it was “sketchy” and its conclusion “apparently wrong”.

The agency was seeking closure of a case involving Madhya Pradesh-based Kamal Sponge Steel and Power Limited (KSSPL), its officials and some unknown officials of the Ministry of Coal in a coal scam case.

CBI’s report appeared to be more of a “defence” given by accused persons and there was “hardly any understanding” of the facts while seeking closure of the case, the court said.

“At the outset, I may however state that 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. Infact no investigation worth the name has been carried out in the present matter,” Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar said in his 31-page order.

Besides Gupta, the court also summoned Coal Ministry’s then Joint Secretary K S Kropha, then Director (Coal Allocation-I section) K C Samaria, Managing Director of KSSPL Pawan Kumar Ahluwalia, Chartered Accountant Amit Goyal and the firm as accused for October 31.

All the accused were summoned for the offences punishable under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant) and 420 (cheating) under the IPC. The court also summoned Gupta for offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The order came on CBI’s closure report in the case in which KSSPL, its directors, Pawan, Kamaljeet Ahluwalia, Prashant Ahluwalia, Goyal and some unknown public servants were named as accused in the FIR for allegedly misrepresenting facts,including inflated net worth, to acquire Thesgora- B/Rudrapuri coal block in Madhya Pradesh.

The court, in its order, said, “In fact the report appears to be more of a statement of plea of defence of the accused persons i.e of M/s KSSPL and its Directors and that of the officers of MOC (Ministry of Coal) rather than the report of any investigation”.

“A bare perusal of the closure report filed in the present matter clearly shows that the investigation has not proceeded further even beyond the first stage i.e to ascertain and collect all facts and circumstances under which the alleged offence was found to have been committed,” the judge said.

“There is hardly any understanding of the said facts and circumstances much less an analysis of the facts so collected.

It is for this reason precisely that the final conclusion arrived at by the investigating agency is apparently wrong being not based on any sound logical reasoning much less any legally admissible reasoning or logic,” the court said.

The court also did not accept the contentions of the CBI’s investigating officer (IO) that the application given by KSSPL to MOC seeking allocation of coal blocks were not properly scrutinised by the officers of the ministry as there was shortage of manpower there.

“The mere statement that due to shortage of manpower they (ministry officials) could not do so is no explanation in the eyes of law. Strangely enough no one right up to the screening committee deliberations, ever cared to enquire as to whether the applications have been scrutinised with regard to their completeness and eligibility in all respects or not,” it said.

“Thus, prima facie it cannot be accepted that due to shortage of man power, the applications could not be scrutinized for their eligibility and completeness by MOC,” the court said.

It also observed that ministry officials were duty bound to scrutinise all the applications and by not doing so, they “facilitated ineligible companies or companies who had made false representation either about their technical or financial capabilities or in other aspects to procure allotment of coal blocks to the detriment of other applicant companies.” “….It is crystal clear that omission on the part of officers of MOC to not to scrutinize the applications as regard their eligibility and completeness was a deliberate act,” it said.

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