Coal scam: Ex-coal secretary HC Gupta gets 3 years in jail

A Delhi court on Wednesday sentenced former coal secretary HC Gupta to 3-year imprisonment in a coal block allocation scam case, which happened during the previous UPA regime at the Centre. Two other bureaucrats — KS Kropha and KC Samria — were also awarded 3-year of jail term. The three bureaucrats were also fined Rs 50,000 each. They were later granted statutory bail as the jail term was below four years.

The case pertains to irregularities in the allocation of Moira and Madhujore (North and South) coal blocks in West Bengal to VMPL.
Special judge Bharat Prasar sentenced other convicted persons Vikas Patni, MD of Vikash Metals and Power (VMPL), and its authorised signatory Anand Mallick to 4 years jail term. The court also imposed a fine of Rs 25 lakh on Patni and Rs 2 lakh on Mallick. They were sent to jail. A fine of Rs 1 lakh was imposed on the company.

In September 2012, the CBI registered an FIR in the case. The CBI had sought a maximum of seven years imprisonment for the five convicted persons and imposition of heavy fine on the private firm. The offences for which they had been convicted entail a minimum punishment of one year in jail, going up to a maximum of seven years.

The court had on November 30 convicted Gupta, former joint secretary in the ministry of coal Kropha and the then director (CA-I) in the ministry Samria. It had also convicted the firm, Patni and Mallick.

Gupta, who was the coal secretary from December 31, 2005 to November 2008, has already been convicted before this in two other cases of coal block allocation in which he had been sentenced to jail for two and three years, respectively. He is out on bail in both the cases.

Kropha, who was then the joint secretary, ministry of coal, retired in December 2017 as the chief secretary of Meghalaya. He has also been convicted and sentenced to two years in another coal block allocation scam and has been on bail.

Samria then held the rank of director in the ministry of coal and is joint secretary in ministry of minority affairs. He has already been convicted and sentenced to two years jail term in another case and was out on bail. All the convicted persons were taken into judicial custody after pronouncement of the order on the direction of the court.

All have been held guilty for the offences under Prevention of Corruption Act and IPC, including cheating, criminal conspiracy and criminal misconduct.

Gupta has been accused in 12 cases of alleged irregularities in coal block allocation scam, prosecutors had said. The CBI has filed charge sheets in connection with alleged irregularities in 40 cases of coal block allocations during the UPA-1 and UPA-2 regime. On July 25, 2014, the Supreme Court had approved appointment of additional sessions judge Parashar as special judge to exclusively deal with all coal scam cases. Till now the special court has decided six such cases.