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Coal block allocation case: Court raps progress, takes stock

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday faced the ire of the trial court in the coal blocks allocation case for failing to furnish a progress report in the further probe ordered by the latter.

“The order was passed 46 days ago. You (CBI) are saying the report is being sent for forwarding. You cannot sit over the matter. CBI can either challenge the order or comply but they cannot sit over it,” Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar said.

The court’s observation came while hearing a case in which it had earlier summoned former coal secretary H C Gupta, then joint secretary of Coal K S Kropha, then director (coal allocation-I section) K C Samaria and two officials of Madhya Pradesh-based company Kamal Sponge Steel and Power Ltd as accused after refusing to accept the CBI’s closure report.

Besides Gupta, Kropha and Samaria, the court had summoned KSSPL’s Managing Director Pawan Kumar Ahluwalia and chartered accountant Amit Goyal as accused in the case. These five accused were granted bail by the court on October 31. During the hearing, the investigating officer (IO) said steps were being taken for necessary compliance of the court’s order on a further probe. The court, however, pulled up the IO for not bringing the case diary with him.

The court also issued a showcause notice to the regional passport officer, Bhopal, as to why a cost of Rs 5,000 be not deducted from his salary. It was not satisfied with the documents filed by one of the officials, who had come from Bhopal’s passport office, on the petition of an accused seeking return of his passport which was seized by CBI.

The court observed despite receiving the plea filed by the accused, the passport office in Bhopal did not file a proper reply in the court.

The court has now fixed the matter regarding progress report of the investigation for December 22. It also asked the IO to supply all relevant documents to the advocates appearing for the accused, after the defence counsel pointed to certain deficiencies in the documents supplied by CBI.

The court also heard another scam matter in which it had earlier ordered a further probe while refusing to accept the  CBI’s closure report related to allocation of Moira and Madhujore (North and South) coal blocks in West Bengal to Vikash Metal and Power Ltd (VMPL). The agency told the court that it had taken specimen signatures of some of the persons, who were named as accused in the First Information Report (FIR). It said that further probe in the matter was going on in compliance with the court’s order. The court fixed the matter for January 30, after the agency said it needed some time to file a progress report.

VMPL and its officials were accused of making false claims related to land allocation to get undue advantage in the coal block allocation. The FIR was filed in September 2012.

CBI, however, had later filed a closure report, saying the allegations against VMPL, its directors and public servants could not be substantiated during the course of investigation.

The FIR was registered against VMPL, its directors, including Vimal Patni, Vikash Patni and Anand Patni, and Anand Mallick, who was the authorised signatory for the company.

They were booked for the alleged offences under sections 120 B (criminal conspiracy) and 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code. In the case involving Kamal Sponge Steel and Power Ltd and others, all the accused were summoned for offences under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant) and 420 (cheating).

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