Coal Scam: Delhi HC Breather For Dilip Ray

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New Delhi:  In a major relief, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday suspended the three-year sentencing of former Union Minister Dilip Ray in connection with the 1999 Jharkhand coal scam.

A Special CBI Court on Monday sentenced Ray to three years of imprisonment for illegally allocating a coal block in Jharkhand to a private company in 1999.

The special CBI judge, Bharat Parashar, had observed that the Brahmadiha coal block in Giridih was allocated to Castron Technologies Ltd (CTL) by Ray at the time when he was the minister of state for coal of Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government, which was acting as a caretaker government.

Besides Ray, the CBI Special Judge had sentenced two former senior officials of the coal ministry, Pradip Kumar Banerjee and Nitya Nand Gautam, as well as Mahendra Aggarwalla of CTL to three-year jail terms. They were also fined Rs 10 lakh each.

The judge also imposed fines of Rs 60 lakh on CTL and Rs 10 lakh on Castron Mining Ltd (CML). The accused were convicted on October 6 for criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, cheating and prevention of corruption act.

However, hours after the sentencing, the Special CBI court granted bail to Ray and three others on a bail bond of Rs 1 lakh each. The court also granted them time till November 25 to appeal in the High Court.

The case pertains to allocation of 105.153 hectares (ha) of an abandoned coal mining area in Giridih district in favour of CTL by the 14th screening committee of the Union Coal Ministry in 1999. It is different from the investigative agency’s probe into improper allocation of captive coal blocks between 2004 and 2009 — a scandal that roiled the United Progressive Alliance headed by Manmohan Singh.

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