Coal scam: Two retired IAS officer facing prosecution, contradict each other

New Delhi: Two retired IAS officers, facing prosecution in a coal scam case, today contradicted each other in a Delhi Court over the issue of recommendation of coal block allocation to a private company in Jharkhand.

Former Union Coal Secretary H C Gupta
Former Union Coal Secretary H C Gupta

While former Chief Secretary of Jharkhand, Ashok Kumar Basu denied making any recommendation for allocation of coal block to Kolkata-based Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd, the then Union Coal Secretary H C Gupta said that there was a “strong recommendation” from him.

The contradiction in the stand taken by the two former bureaucrats, who are also accused, was questioned by the judge who asked whose version he should believe.

“One accused says I did not insist on allocation coal block to this company, the other accused says he had insisted. Whom should I believe,” Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar said.

The judge was hearing the arguments on framing of charges in the case in which both of them along with former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda and six others were summoned as accused by the court. The arguments will continue tomorrow.

Basu’s counsel claimed that the allegation against him in CBI’s charge sheet that he insisted upon allocation of coal block in Jharkhand to Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd (VISUL) was “incorrect”.

He also argued that the 36th screening committee members had unanimously signed for allocation to VISUL.

His claim, however, was contradicted by Gupta who said Basu had “strongly recomended” VISUL for Jharkhand’s Rajhara (north) coal block allocation.

“The chief secretary (Basu) had strongly recommended VISUL for the coal block. Gupta was merely the coal secretary and Chairman of the screening committee which was not the final authority to allocate coal block. It was merely recommending authority.

“Recommendation was made by the screening committee members unanimously and as per the guidelines,” Gupta’s advocate argued before Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar.

He added that Gupta was not having dominion over the coal block and charges of criminal breach of trust by public sevant under the IPC and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act were not warranted against him.