NEW DELHI: The Special CBI court on Monday sentenced former coal secretary H C Gupta and two serving senior officials to two year imprisonment for irregularities in the allocation of a coal block in Madhya Pradesh to a private firm.
They became the first public servants to be convicted and sentenced for the coal block allocation scam, unearthed during the previous UPA government.
Special Judge Bharat Parashar also imposed a fine of Rs one crore on Madhya Pradesh-based Kamal Sponge Steel and Power Ltd (KSSPL), which was the beneficiary of the allocation of Thesgora-B/Rudrapuri coal block in the state and Rs one lakh fine each on all three government officials.
KSSPL’s managing director Pawan Kumar Ahluwalia was awarded three-year jail term and fine of Rs 30 lakh by the court for misrepresenting facts in its application before the Ministry of Coal (MOC), which was then headed by prime minister Manmohan Singh.
Besides Gupta, who was the coal secretary from December 31, 2005 to November 2008, the then joint secretary KS Kropha and the then director KC Samaria in the MOC were handed down the punishment for cheating, criminal conspiracy and corruption.
The court held them guilty of multiple offences and said Gupta, Kropha and Samria had entered into a criminal conspiracy with KSSPL and Ahluwalia to commit criminal misconduct for procuring coal block allotment in favour of KSSPL.
All the convicts were, however, granted bail on a personal bond of Rs one lakh and one surety of like amount soon after the sentence was announced, to enable them move the High Court challenging the trial court verdict. The court had on May 19 convicted all the five but acquitted the Chartered Accountant Amit Goyal in the case.
It noted that Gupta made dishonest misrepresentation before the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who had retained the Coal Ministry portfolio.
The court said Singh, who had to act only upon the recommendations of the Screening Committee of which Gupta was the chairman, had no reason to presume that the then Coal Secretary had recommended a non-compliant firm for coal block allocation.