Congress leader and industrialist Naveen Jindal, ex-minister of state for coal Dasari Narayan Rao, former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda and seven others were on Friday granted bail by a special court in a coal block allocation scam case.
Jindal, Rao, Koda, former coal cecretary Harish Chandra Gupta and others appeared as accused before the special CBI Judge Bharat Parasar and moved separate pleas seeking bail.
During the arguments, senior advocate Ramesh Gupta, appearing for Jindal, told the court that his client had joined the investigation as and when called by the CBI and there was no apprehension that he would abscond or flee from justice.
The counsel representing other nine individual accused told the court that their clients were not arrested during the investigation and there was no likelihood that any one of them will abscond.
Senior public prosecutor VK Sharma opposed the bail pleas saying the accused in the case are high profile industrialists and politicians and most of the prosecution witnesses are their employees and could influence the witnesses or tamper with the evidence if released on bail.
The judge, after hearing the submissions, granted bail to the ten individuals accused, saying, "I deem it appropriate... to admit all ten accused on bail on a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh each with one surety of the like amount."
The court also directed the accused not to leave India without its prior permission and fixed the matter for further hearing on June 1.
Besides Jindal, Rao, Koda and Gupta, the other accused who were granted bail are Suresh Singhal, director of New Delhi Exim Pvt Ltd, Rajeev Jain, director of Jindal Realty Pvt Ltd, Girish Kumar Suneja and Radha Krishna Saraf, both directors of Gagan Sponge Iron Pvt Ltd (GSIPL), K Ramakrishna Prasad, managing director of Sowbhagya Media Ltd and chartered accountant Gyan Swaroop Garg.
Besides these ten accused, the authorised representatives of five accused firms -- Jindal Steel and Pvt Ltd (JSPL), Jindal Realty Pvt Ltd, Gagan Infraenergy Ltd (formerly known as GSIPL), Sowbhagya Media Ltd and New Delhi Exim Pvt Ltd --also appeared before the court.
The accused were summoned by the court in the case pertaining to the alleged irregularities in allocation of Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block in Jharkhand to two Jindal group firms, Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) and Gagan Sponge Iron Pvt Ltd (GSIPL).
In its charge sheet in the case, CBI has alleged that Jindal had promised Congress support to the then "unstable" Madhu Koda government in Jharkhand in return for a recommendation for allocation of Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block to his group firms.
Koda, then an independent MLA, was chief minister of Jharkhand from September 14, 2006 to August 23, 2008 with the support of Congress, RJD and others.
While summoning the accused, the court had observed that Jindal had prima facie "manipulated" the entire government machinery to procure undue coal block allotment in Jharkhand.
The judge had earlier observed that the charge sheet filed by the CBI prima facie showed that Jindal had played a "pivotal role" in the conspiracy to procure allotment of the coal block in favour of his two group firms, JSPL and GSIPL.
The court had said that prima facie offences under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) read with sections 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant), 420 (cheating) of the IPC read with section 13(1)(c) and 13(1)(d) (criminal misconduct by a public servant) of the Prevention of Corruption Act were made out against all the 15 accused.
The court had said that substantive offence of cheating was prima facie made out against Jindal, Saraf, Suneja, JSPL and Gagan Infraenergy Ltd.
It had said substantive offences under section 409 of IPC and section 13(1)(c)/13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) were also prima facie made out against Rao and Gupta while substantive offence under section 13(1)(d) of PCA was prima facie made out against Koda.
Section 409 of IPC entails life imprisonment as maximum punishment. The court had said that according to CBI's charge sheet, Koda had conspired with Jindal and abused his official position to extend "undue benefits" to JSPL and GSIPL.
It was found during the probe that GSIPL had allegedly misrepresented facts about its net worth in the feedback form submitted before the screening committee, the court had said.
It had also observed that from the circumstances, it prima facie appeared that GSIPL had acted as a "front company" for JSPL to procure allotment of entire Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block.