Coal scam: Madhu Koda awarded 3-year rigorous imprisonment

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New Delhi: The special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Saturday awarded three-year rigorous imprisonment to former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda in a coal block allocation scam and imposed a fine of Rs25 lakh on him.

The court also sentenced former Jharkhand coal secretary H.C. Gupta, then chief secretary Ashok Kumar Basu and Vijay Joshi of Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd (VISUL) to 3 years rigorous rigorous imprisonment in the case. Basu and Gupta were fined Rs1 lakh each, while Joshi and VISUL were fined Rs25 lakh and Rs50 lakh, respectively.

The special court granted them 60 days to file an appeal.

On Wednesday, special CBI court judge Bharat Parashar had convicted Koda and others for the offence of criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and violation of provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The conviction pertains to irregularities in the allocation of the Rajhara North coal block in Jharkhand to VISUL in 2008.

VISUL had applied for allocation of the coal block on 8 January 2007 on the recommendation of the 36th Screening Committee. However, no such recommendation was given by the Jharkhand government or the steel ministry to VISUL. Gupta, who was chairman of the screening committee, allegedly concealed this fact from then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who also headed the coal ministry at that time.

In 2015, CBI filed a charge-sheet before a special CBI Judge against Koda and several others in the allocation scam. The CBI alleged that Koda, along with his associates, had accepted bribe for illegal allocation of the blocks.

The ‘coal-gate’ scam came light in March 2012 after a draft Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Report accused the Centre of inefficient allocation of coal blocks between 2004 and 2009.

The final CAG report, placed before Parliament in August 2012, estimated a loss of Rs1.86 trillion to the exchequer due to the inefficiency.

In 2013, the Standing Committee on Coal and Steel also reported that allocation of coal blocks between 1993 and 2008 was conducted in an unauthorized manner. Illegal allocation of 214 such coal blocks was quashed by the Supreme Court in 2014.