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CBI chargesheets Madhu Koda in coal scam

After the Supreme Court allowed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to continue its probe in the coal scam allocation case, the agency has swung into action and filed three chargesheets, with one of these naming former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda as an accused.

This is the first time Koda’s name has appeared in a coal scam-related case after the Congress government under him in Jharkhand had “recommended coal blocks to ineligible companies”. Koda was not named in the First Information Report (FIR) filed by the CBI in September 2012.

The case relates to the Ranjhara North block in Jharkhand, jointly allocated to Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Limited in November 2008.

The CBI has also booked former Union coal secretary H C Gupta and former Jharkhand chief secretary Ashok Kumar Basu in this case. “These officials have been booked for abuse of official position and recommending coal blocks to ineligible companies,” a CBI source told Business Standard.

Vijay Joshi, reportedly a close aide to Koda, is also chargesheeted as he was holding major stakes in the company, CBI sources said.

According to the CBI’s FIR, Vini Iron and Steel Udyog, set up by the Tulsyan group in 2004, were initially not recommended for the coal block as it was “not having recommendation of either the state of Jharkhand or the Ministry of Steel”. Reportedly, this was when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government under Arjun Munda was in power.

However, the company was given recommendations in the Screening Committee meeting held in July 2008, the minutes of which were signed by Basu (then chief secretary). It was also alleged that “ownership of Vini Iron and Steel Udyog had changed hands during the intervening period of the 36th Screening Committee. The enquiry also revealed that change of ownership of the company coincided with the change of view of state government”.

During this time, the Tulsyan group had transferred ownership of the firm to Joshi. Koda was chief minister during the September 2006-August 2008 period. Two Jharkhand bureaucrats — Basant Kumar Bhattacharya (section officer in the revenue department) and Bipin Bihari Singh (director, mines and geology) — were also named in the chargesheet along with Vaibhav Tulsyan (promoter of the firm), said the CBI.

All the accused have been booked for cheating, criminal conspiracy, criminal misconduct by public servants and abuse of government position.

CBI had presented the chargesheet for consideration in the special court here in September, but as these two were active government servants, the court had sent back the chargesheet for getting the necessary sanction for their prosecution. “Necessary sanction for their prosecution has since been obtained,” CBI told the court on Thursday.

The investigative agency has dropped the names of other directors who had been named in the FIR — Sanjeev Tulsyan, Prashant Tulsyan, Nisha Tulsyan, Vimal Kumar Tulsyan, Nirmala Tulsyan, Hemant Kumar Aggarwal and Navin Kumar Tulsyan — as “they were not found involved in any manner in the commission of the impugned offences”.

The Supreme Court had asked the CBI not to take any final decision such as  file a chargesheet or a closure report, —  for over a month in view of allegations against former CBI director Ranjit Sinha. The apex court had on Monday asked the agency to expedite its probe in the coal scam cases.

Two more chargesheets have been filed in cases pertaining to Pakri Barwadih West and Gondal Para coal block in Jharkhand and Lohara East coal block in Maharashtra. In the former coal block case, the CBI has booked Jharkhand Ispat Private; its director R S Rungta and founder and chairman R C Rungta; K R Kedia, an employee with Rungta Group of Companies; and a private individual named Naresh Mehta, for “criminal conspiracy, cheating and forgery”.

In the case related to Lohara East coal block, Grace Industries and its director Mukesh Gupta have been chargesheeted for cheating. The other director Seema Gupta’s name and that of the unknown public servants have been dropped from the chargesheet.

The CBI has filed a closure report against Prakash Industries in connection with the Fatehpur coal block allotted to the firm in 2006 and 2008. “The case registered against Prakash Industries has been prayed to be closed as no offence was found to have been committed,” the agency said. Further details on the case were not immediately available.

The CBI has registered 36 cases in the alleged coal scam so far. It has filed chargesheets in five cases and closure reports in two.

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