New Delhi, Jan 30 (IANS) A special court Friday said former minister of state for coal Santosh Bagrodia, ex-coal secretary H.C. Gupta and another official of the ministry prima facie committed criminal misconduct and facilitated AMR Iron and Steel in obtaining a coal block “unlawfully”.
“It is thus prima facie clear from the overall facts and circumstances of the case that the ministry of coal officers namely L.S. Janoti, section officer, CA-I, MOC, H.C. Gupta, secretary MOC and chairman, Screening Committee alongwith Minister of State for Coal, Santosh Bagrodia, prima facie committed the offence of criminal misconduct under section 13 (1) (d) read with Section 13 (2) Prevention of Corruption Act while entering into a criminal conspiracy with the private parties involved in the impugned coal block allocation to AMR and thereby facilitated AMR to obtain allocation of ‘Bander Coal Block’ unlawfully,” said Special Judge Bharat Parashar.
The court noted that out of the three against whom cognisance need to be taken, only Janoti is still in government service and said prior sanction of the competent authority was required to prosecute him for the offence punishable under the graft charges.
The judge’s observation came while directing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to further probe a coal blocks allocation scam case in which the agency has charged Rajya Sabha MP Vijay Darda, his son Devendra Darda, AMR Iron and Steel director Manoj Jayaswal and the firm, as accused.
The court posted the matter for filing of progress report of further investigation Feb 13.
The court also said: “In fact even in the PMO, the officers dealing with the matter paid no attention to the facts and simply proceeded on the basis of noting coming from MoC. Certainly it was their bounden duty to carefully go through the entire record lest they were misled by any wrong noting coming from MoC.”
Describing Gupta’s role, the court said he “consciously helped” AMR in suppressing the crucial information from the government and facilitated misappropriation of the natural resources of the country.
“Santosh Bagrodia was also well aware that equity holders of AMR had been earlier also allotted a number of coal blocks,” the court said. It added that Bagrodia himself had asked for the share holding pattern of the firm and its commitment towards developing coal blocks along with specific milestones with timelines for each milestone.
Vijay Darda, Devendra Darda, Jayaswal and the firm are chargesheeted under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) read with 420 (cheating) of IPC and under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
All three individuals are out on bail.