Sunday, December 10, 2023

Chhattisgarh Coal Block Allocation scam case: Delhi HC suspends sentence of Vijay Darda, son Devender, businessman Manoj Kumar Jayaswal

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The High Court of Delhi has suspended the four-year sentence awarded to former Rajya Sabha MP Vijay Darda, his son Devender Darda and Director of JLD Yavatmal Energy Pvt Ltd Manoj Kumar Jayaswal for their alleged involvement in the Chhattisgarh coal block allocation scam.

The single-judge Bench of Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma suspended the sentence till the pendency of appeals filed by the accused against their conviction and sentence in the case.

Justice Sharma directed the appellants not to leave the country without prior permission of the court concerned and not to directly or indirectly make any inducement, threat or promise to any person acquainted with the facts of the case.

The High Court directed Vijay Darda, his son and businessman Jayaswal to furnish a personal bond of Rs one lakh with two sureties of the like amount.

Earlier on July 28, the High Court had granted interim bail to Vijay Darda, Devender and Jayaswal.

The order was passed by the Single-Judge Bench of Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma on petitions challenging the July 26 order of a trial court, which convicted and sentenced the accused to four-year imprisonment in the case.

The High Court further issued notice to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), seeking its response within eight weeks.

The former Rajya Sabha MP, his son and businessman Jayaswal were convicted in a case related to irregularities in the allocation of a coal block in Chhattisgarh.

Special Judge, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Sanjay Bansal had observed on July 26 that the accused had obtained the block by cheating the government.

The Rouse Avenue District Court had also awarded three-year sentence to former Coal Secretary H.C. Gupta and two other officials K.S. Kropha and K.C. Samaria.

However, the trial court granted bail to these three accused, in order to enable them to challenge their conviction before the High Court.

The court had further sentenced Director of JLD Yavatmal Energy Pvt Ltd Manoj Kumar Jayaswal to four-year jail sentence. M/s JLD Yavatmal was fined Rs 50 lakh.

Earlier on July 18, the Special CBI Judge had convicted the accused under Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) of the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act.

The case was related to allocation of coal blocks advertised in 2006. It was alleged that JLD had concealed various facts in its application form in order to obtain wrongful gain in allocation of the coal block.

As per information, the coal block was allocated to JLD as a result of active collaboration between the office bearers of the company and the officials of the Ministry of Coal (MoC) Gupta, Kropha and Samria.

During the scam perod, Gupta was then Coal Secretary and Chairman of the Screening Committee, Kropha was posted as Joint Secretary in the MoC and Member Convener of the Screening Committee.

Samria was also posted in the MoC and the allegation was that all the applications were received in his office and his office supervised the entire process of processing the applications right through the entire process of allocation of coal blocks.

A closure report was filed by CBI in the case on April 15, 2014 stating that there was no material to show commission of any criminal conspiracy of cheating. However, the closure report was rejected by the predecessor judge in November 2014.

The judge said that private parties had committed an offence of cheating and there was active connivance with the officials of the MoC.

The Court held that the accused company did make misrepresentations and dishonestly induced the Government of India.

The Court underlined on the role of the public servants and said that they must be held liable for their actions and even though the guidelines issued by the MoC to govern the allocation of captive coal blocks may not be termed as law under Article 13 of the Constitution, they were binding upon the officers.

The Court added that allocation of coal block to an ineligible company was against public interest and the actions of the three officers conclusively showed that their efforts were to somehow recommend allocation of the coal block in favour of JLD.

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