New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday urged the Special Court to award life imprisonment to former Union Minister of State for Coal Dilip Ray, who has been convicted in a case pertaining to irregularities in the allocation of a Jharkhand coal block in 1999.
After hearing arguments from the CBI as well the convicts, Special Judge Bharat Parashar reserved the order on their sentencing for October 26.
Apart from Ray, the central investigating agency also sought life imprisonment for other convicts in the case, including erstwhile senior officials of Coal Ministry Pradip Kumar Banerjee and Nitya Nand Gautam and director of Castron Technologies Ltd (CTL) Mahendra Kumar Agarwalla. The CBI also sought imposition of a maximum fine on CTL and Castron Mining Ltd (CML), also held guilty in the case.
While the convicts requested the court to take a lenient view in respect of their old age and prior clean antecedents, the CBI — represented by public prosecutors VK Sharma and AP Singh — told the court through video conferencing that white-collar crimes are on the rise and maximum punishment was required to send a message to the society.
The Special Judge concluded that it is beyond all reasonable doubts that the convicts conspired ogether to procure allocation of Brahmadiha captive coal block in favour of CTL.
The court held them guilty of the offences under 120-B (criminal conspiracy) 409 (criminal breach of trust) and 420 (cheating) of the IPC and various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
CTL, Mahesh Kumar Agarwalla and CML were held guilty for the offence under 379 (punishment for theft) and 34 (common intention) of the IPC. A total of 51 witnesses were examined in the case.
The prosecution contended that the facts and circumstances of the case clearly pointed to hatching of a criminal conspiracy by private parties and public servants involved in the process of allocation of the impugned coal block.
It was also submitted that the Brahmadiha coal block was not a nationalized coal mine and was neither included by Coal India Ltd (CIL) nor its subsidiary companies in the identified list of captive coal blocks to be allocated by the Coal Ministry.
Since 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 the CTL, they pointed out.
This is the first conviction in coal scam for the offence carrying a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.