Coal scam: Kropha, 4 others get bail

New Delhi: A special court on Friday granted bail to the then Joint Secretary of Coal and present Additional Chief Secretary of Meghalaya, K.S. Kropha, former Coal Secretary H.C. Gupta and three others, in a coal blocks allocation scam case.

Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar released on bail Kropha, Gupta, the then Director (Coal Allocation-I section) K.C. Samaria and two officials of Madhya Pradesh-based company Kamal Sponge Steel and Power Ltd. (KSSPL) after they appeared before the court in pursuance to summons issued against them.

KSSPL’s authorized representative, Ankit Gandhi, also appeared before the court which directed him to remain present in all the hearings of the case.

The five individuals and the Madhya Pradesh-based company were summoned as accused by the court on its own after it had refused to accept the CBI’s closure report. The individuals moved their bail applications in the court.

The bail pleas, however, were opposed by Special Public Prosecutor R.S. Cheema on the ground that the court should consider the nature and gravity of the offence and the accused were charged for the offence of criminal breach of trust by public servants which entails a maximum punishment of life imprisonment. The court released Kropha, Gupta, Samaria, KSSPL’s managing director Pavan Kumar Ahluwalia and Chartered Accountant Amit Goyal on bail after furnishing of a personal bond of Rs.1 lakh each and a surety of a similar amount.

“Undoubtedly, the CBI in the present case chose to file a closure report but this Court differed with the conclusion so arrived at by the CBI and took cognizance of the offences under sections 120-B/409/420 IPC and also for the offence under section 13(1)(d) read with section 13(2) of Prevention of Corruption Act and issued summons to all the above said five accused persons.

All of them were summoned as accused for offences under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant) and 420 (cheating) under the IPC.

Only Gupta has been summoned for the offences punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The case pertains to alleged misrepresenting of facts, including inflated net worth, by KSSPL to acquire Thesgora-B/ Rudrapuri coal block in Madhya Pradesh.

While allowing the bail applications of the accused, the judge also imposed several conditions on them, including that they shall not leave the country without the court’s permission and shall not tamper with the evidence and try to contact or influence the witnesses in the case.

During the day, the investigating officer also supplied copies of the final report and other documents.

The court fixed December 15 for scrutiny of documents filed along with the final report in the case.

During the arguments, Kropha and Gupta sought bail on the ground that they were holding very senior positions in the Ministry of Coal and performed their duties as per guidelines of the government and there was no malafide intention on their part in the entire process of coal block allocation.

“Gupta has rendered a long service of more than 33 years and has an impeccable integrity. At every stage of probe, Gupta and Kropha, who is serving as Additional Chief Secretary of the State of Meghalaya, have cooperated with the CBI and they appeared in the court at first summons only,” the counsel submitted.

The advocate appearing for Samaria, who is presently working as Joint Secretary to Government of India in Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, argued that he was not posted at the relevant department when the applications for allocation of coal blocks were sought.

All the five individual accused submitted that they have deep roots in the society and have responded to first summons of the court.

They said there was no allegation that they tried to influence the witnesses and prayed to be released on bail.

On October 13, the court had summoned six accused including Gupta, Samaria, Kropha and KSSPL.

The court, in its detailed order had noted that no cognizance of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act could be taken against Kropha and Samaria for want of sanction as they are still in government service. (PTI)

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