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New Delhi, October 6, 2020
A Delhi court on Tuesday convicted Minister of State for Coal in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, Dilip Ray, and five others in a coal block allocation case, noting that they conspired together, beyond all reasonable doubt, to procure allocation of the coal block.
The case pertains to the allocation of 105.153 hectares of non-nationalized and abandoned coal mining area in Jharkhand's Giridih district to Castron Technologies Limited by the 14th Screening Committee of the Ministry of Coal in 1999.
Besides Ray, two former senior officials of the Ministry of Coal -- Pradip Kumar Banerjee, the then Additional Secretary and Nitya Nand Gautam, former Adviser (Projects), Castron Technologies Limited and its director Mahendra Kumar Agarwalla and Castron Mining Limited have also been found guilty.
Special Judge Bharat Parashar of Rouse Avenue Court concluded that it is "beyond shadows of all reasonable doubts that all the convicts conspired together so as to procure allocation of a captive coal block -- Brahmadiha coal block -- in favour of Castron Technologies Limited."
The court held them guilty of offences under 120-B (criminal conspiracy) 409 (criminal breach of trust) and 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code and various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Besides this, Mahesh Kumar Agarwalla and Castron Mining Limited were also held guilty for the offence under 379 (punishment for theft) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code. The arguments on the quantum of sentence to the convicts will be heard by the court on October 14.
As many as 51 witnesses were examined in the case.
According to the prosecution, the facts and circumstances of the case clearly pointed to the hatching of a criminal conspiracy by the private parties and the public servants involved in the process of allocation of the impugned coal block.
It was submitted that Brahmadiha coal block was not a nationalised coal mine and was not included by CIL or its subsidiary companies in the identified list of captive coal blocks to be allocated by the Ministry of Coal.
Senior Public Prosecutor A. P. Singh had told the court that as Brahmadiha coal block was not an identified captive coal block to be allocated to private parties, even the screening committee was not competent to consider its allocation to any company much less to Castron Technologies Limited.
The prosecution stated that Dilip Ray had himself approved the guidelines of the Coal Ministry that no coal block shall be allocated for captive mining to a company engaged in production of iron and steel or sponge iron if the annual production capacity is less than 1 MTPA in opencast mining. However, in the case of Castron Technologies Limited, he agreed to relax the said guidelines so as to extend undue benefits to the private parties involved.