Ex-coal secretary Gupta's U-turn: Wants counsel in all cases but one

Ex-coal secretary, five others slapped with charges of cheating, criminal conspiracy

Published: 20th August 2016 03:54 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th August 2016 03:54 AM   |  A+A-

NEW DELHI: A special CBI court on Friday framed various charges including cheating and criminal conspiracy against former Coal Secretary H C Gupta and five others in the coal scam case.

The development comes days after former Coal Secretary H C Gupta, accused in several coal scam cases, said he was ready to face trial from inside the jail and withdraw his lawyers owing to financial difficulties, the ex-bureaucrat on Friday took a partial U-turn and told a special court he would not have a counsel only in one case.

Gupta, currently out on bail, said this after Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar, framed various charges including cheating and criminal conspiracy against him and others in a separate coal scam case involving Vikash Metals and Power Ltd (VMPL), asked him if he intended to move a plea to withdraw lawyers and personal bond and face trial from inside the jail.

“Are you (Gupta) moving any application (for withdrawing counsel and personal bond) in this case as well?” the court asked. To this, Gupta said that his plea in this regard was confined only to the case involving Madhya Pradesh-based Kamal Sponge Steel and Power Ltd (KSSPL) and others and he was firm on his stand to not engage an advocate in that case due to financial difficulties.

“I will continue with my counsel in this (VMPL’s) case at this stage,” Gupta said.

Gupta had on August 16 told the court that he intended to face trial from inside the jail and withdraw his personal bond to secure bail due to financial difficulties even as he had expressed anguish before the court saying the government should recognise its honest officers and protect them instead of prosecuting them.

Besides Gupta, the court also framed charges against two public servants, private firm VMPL and its two officials in a case pertaining to the alleged irregularities in allocation of a coal block in West Bengal.

During the hearing, Gupta told the court that in an RTI reply received from the Ministry of Coal, he has been cleared from all the allegations levelled against him in the coal scam cases.

The court asked him to furnish the document before it.

During Friday’s hearing, the court framed various charges including cheating and criminal conspiracy against Gupta.

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