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Coal Scam: CBI seeks maximum jail term for former Coal Secy H C Gupta, others

The CBI on Thursday sought maximum punishment from a Delhi court for former Coal Secretary H C Gupta and former joint Secretary in the Ministry of Coal (MoC), K S Kropha in a coal scam case related to irregularities in the allocation of a coal block in Maharashtra. Special Judge Arun Bhardwaj, who reserved order on the quantum of punishment for August 8, had on July 29 convicted Gupta and Kropha for criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, cheating, and corruption in the case related to the allocation of Lohara East coal block.

During the argument on Thursday, the probe agency told the court that due to the impact of the scam, companies are not coming forward to mine the coal blocks and despite ample coal “provided by the mother earth, we are not able to extract coal and consequently, there is a shortage of coal, and we are compelled to import coal from Indonesia and Australia.”

“Unfortunately in the last few years, the country has seen an alarming rise in white-collar crimes which has affected the fibre of the country’s economic structure. These cases are nothing but private gain at the cost of public, and lead to economic disaster,” the agency told the court.

It termed the coal scam as “one of the biggest scams of the country”, which allegedly caused a loss to the tune of Rs 1.86 lakh crore to the government exchequer, as per the CAG report.

The convict persons face a maximum of seven-year term, which may increase if the jail term is ordered to run ‘subsequently’ for each offence.

The defence counsel, meanwhile, urged the court to award minimum punishment considering the convicts’ old age and poor health condition.

The court had also convicted Grace Industries Ltd. (GIL) and it’s then Director Mukesh Gupta for criminal conspiracy and cheating.

The trial of the case was conducted by senior advocate R S Cheema, Deputy Legal Advisor for CBI Sanjay Kumar, and senior public prosecutor A P Singh.

H C Gupta was earlier convicted in three other coal scam cases and his appeal against those convictions is pending before Delhi High Court. He is currently on bail, along with other convict persons in the case.

According to the CBI, between 2005 and 2011, the accused persons hatched a criminal conspiracy and cheated MoC, and the Government of India by dishonestly and fraudulently inducing the MoC to allocate ‘Lohara East Coal Block’ in favour of GIL based on false information about net worth, capacity, equipment, and status of procurement and installation of the plant.

CBI also stated that the company, in its application, claimed its net worth as Rs 120 crore whereas its networth was only Rs 3.3 crore and that the company also falsified its existing capacity as 1,20,000 TPA against 30,000 TPA.

The Supreme Court on August 25, 2014, cancelled the entire allocations of coal blocks.

This is the 11th conviction in coal scam cases secured by the prosecution.

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