Charges to be Framed Against Jin­dal, Oth­ers in Coal Scam

Ex-min­is­ter Dasari Narayana Rao and J’khand ex-CM Madhu Koda also face charges

The Economic Times - - Companies: Pursuit Of Profit - Our Bureau

New Delhi: A spe­cial court or­dered the fram­ing of crim­i­nal charges against in­dus­tri­al­ist Naveen Jin­dal, for­mer coal min­is­ter Dasari Narayana Rao, erst­while Jhark­hand chief min­is­ter Madhu Koda and for­mer coal sec­re­tary HC Gupta in the al­leged con­spir­acy and cor­rup­tion over al­lo­ca­tion of coal blocks.

The rare in­stance of crim­i­nal charges be­ing filed against a lead­ing busi­ness­man along with a for­mer top bu­reau­crat and prom­i­nent politi­cians is the lat­est fall­out of the con­tro­ver­sial free dis­tri­bu­tion of mines, which the Comptroller and Au­di­tor Gen­eral ( CAG) had es­ti­mated as be­ing worth .₹ 1.86 lakh crore. Many of th­ese coal blocks were auc­tioned by the gov­ern­ment af­ter the Supreme Court can­celled the al­lo­ca­tion, leav­ing firms stranded with thou­sands of crores of in­vest­ments that de­pended on coal from th­ese mines.

Fri­day’s court or­der in­volves al­leged ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in the al­lot­ment of Amarkonda Mur­gadan­gal coal block in Jhark­hand to Jin­dal Steel & Power Ltd (JSPL) and Ga­gan Sponge Iron. Suresh Sing­hal, one of the ac­cused, has sought a plea bar­gain, while the rest have de­nied the al­le­ga­tions.

Spe­cial CBI judge Bharat Parashar or­dered that charges be framed against all ac­cused un­der sec­tions of the In­dian Pe­nal Code per­tain­ing to crim­i­nal con­spir­acy and cheat­ing, and var­i­ous sec­tions of the Preven­tion of Cor­rup­tion Act.

In April last year, the Cen­tral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion (CBI) had filed a charge sheet against Jin­dal, Koda, Rao and Gupta along with six other in­di­vid­u­als, lev­el­ling charges of crim­i­nal con­spir­acy, cheat­ing and cor­rup­tion. The agency had named five pri­vate firms – JSPL, Ga­gan Sponge, Jin­dal Realty, Sowb­hagya Me­dia and New Delhi Exim – in the charge sheet.

Ac­cord­ing to the agency, there was suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence to frame charges against the ac­cused. It has al­leged that the ac­cused had con­spired to get the coal block al­lo­cated in favour of the two Jin­dal group firms.

“We deny all al­le­ga­tions made against our com­pany and its man­age­ment. We have full faith in the In­dian ju­di­cial sys­tem and are con­fi­dent to come out clean dur­ing the process. The said al­lo­ca­tion was made to the com­pany purely on mer­its,” a JSPL state­ment said.

The other ac­cused are Jin­dal Realty di­rec­tor Ra­jeev Jain, Ga­gan Sponge direc­tors Girish Ku­mar Suneja and Radha Krishna Saraf, New Delhi Exim Pvt Ltd di­rec­tor Sing­hal, Sowb­hagya Me­dia man­ag­ing di­rec­tor K Ra­makr­ishna Prasad and the com­pany’s char­tered ac­coun­tant Gyan Swa­roop Garg.

The court is­sued no­tices to CBI and 14 ac­cused on the plea by Sing­hal for a par­don and turn­ing ap­prover in the case. Sing­hal filed the ap­pli­ca­tion on April 21, seek­ing to make a dis­clo­sure state­ment that was later recorded by a mag­is­trate and placed be­fore the spe­cial judge in a sealed en­ve­lope.

“Trial pro­ceed­ings in this case would be ap­pro­pri­ate to be con­ducted af­ter ad­ju­di­ca­tion of this is­sue,” the court said and fixed May 11 for hear­ing sub­mis­sions from CBI and the ac­cused on Sing­hal’s plea.

Jin­dal, Rao, Koda and oth­ers have de­nied the al­le­ga­tions and sought to be dis­charged from the case.

In its charge sheet, CBI has al­leged that JSPL and Ga­gan Sponge mis­rep­re­sented facts per­tain­ing to land, water sup­ply and past coal al­lo­ca­tion to ac­quire the Amarkonda Mur­gadan­gal coal block. CBI said the group in its ap­pli­ca­tion sub­mit­ted in Jan­uary 2007 for the block claimed it had three coal blocks while it had six. Af­ter block al­lot­ment, Jin­dal’s New Delhi Exim bought shares in Rao’s Saub­hagya Me­dia at .₹ 100 apiece, in­vest­ing .₹ 2.25 crore, it said.

Naveen Jin­dal

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