Two officials of a Union steel ministry panel, along with a private firm and its director have been put on trial by a Delhi court on charges of forgery cheating and corruption in a coal block allocation case.
Special CBI Judge Sanjeev Jain framed charges against executive secretary Goutam Kumar Basak and manager (F&A) Soumen Chatterjee of the ministry's Joint Plant Committee (JPC) for allegedly giving misleading report on production capacity of Chhattisgarh-based firm Prakash Industries Ltd (PIL).
JPC was set up in 1964 by the government for formulating guidelines for production, allocation and pricing of iron and steel and is the only institution which is officially empowered by the ministry of steel to collect data on iron and steel industry.
Besides these two accused, the court also found prima facie evidence to frame charges against PIL and its director (corporate affairs) AK Chaturvedi.
The court also framed charges against them under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery for the purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document) of the IPC and under the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act and has slated the matter for January 15 next year for commencement of the trial in the case.
According to the CBI, on the basis of inflated production figures and "bogus reports" submitted by PIL, Basak and Chatterjee, the screening committee allotted the captive coal block at Urtan in Madhya Pradesh and at Vijay Central in Chhattisgarh to PIL.
The court, in its order on framing of charges against the accused, had also said that Basak and Chatterjee were directed to make physical verification of the PIL's plant, but instead of giving "the correct picture, they gave misleading picture suited to the claim of AK Chaturvedi and PIL."
In its charge sheet, the CBI had said the PIL in connivance with Hind Energy & Coal Benefication (India) Pvt Ltd and various officials of the Ministry of Coal, the Ministry of Steel and the JPC, got allocated the coal blocks "using false and fabricated documents."
It had told the court that on an application by the PIL in January 1998, Chotia coal mining block at Chhattisgarh too was allotted to it.
The agency had alleged that PIL, through its April 12, 2007 application, again applied for allotment of mining block for its steel plant at Champa in Chhattisgarh for expansion of its capacity and to justify its claim, it filed false and fabricated copies of Central Excise Returns showing inflated production figures from December 2007 to March 2008.
The CBI's charge sheet had alleged that PIL had mined coal from Chotia mining block in excess and diverted approximately 50 percent of it to the black market and earned a profit of about Rs. 22.7 crores.
It had said that PIL submitted application for allocation of coal block by giving false informations and submitting fabricated documents including excess returns through accused Chaturvedi.