Coal block allocation: Ex-coal secretary HC Gupta gets 3 years in prison
According to the CBI, HC Gupta and two others conspired and cheated the Union government between 2005 and 2011 by fraudulently inducing the coal ministry to allocate the block.
A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Monday sentenced former coal secretary HC Gupta to three-year, former joint-secretary KS Kropha to two-year, and Nagpur firm Grace Industries Limited (GIL)’s director Mukesh Gupta to four-year imprisonment days after convicting them of criminal conspiracy, cheating and under the Prevention of Corruption Act on July 29 over the allocation Maharashtra’s Lohara east coal block.
Special judge Arun Bhardwaj also slapped a fine of ₹one lakh on Gupta, ₹50,000 on Kropha, and two lakh each on Gupta and GIL.
According to the CBI, the three conspired and cheated the Union government between 2005 and 2011 by fraudulently inducing the coal ministry to allocate the block to GIL based on false information about net worth, capacity, equipment, and status of procurement.
It said the company claimed its net worth was ₹120 crore whereas it was only ₹3.3 crore and that the firm also falsified its existing capacity.
On July 29, the court noted Gupta made three misrepresentations in discussions with the then prime minister’s principal secretary.
The court said Gupta gave a false impression that a decision of the Screening Committee he headed to allocate coal blocks among competing applicants was based on inter-se priority. It added Gupta also concealed information that GIL’s application was not sent to the steel ministry for its mandatory comment. The court said he also made misrepresentations regarding recommendations for the company’s power plant.
The court said Gupta received a letter making serious allegations against the company supported by documentary evidence, which should have set the alarm bells ringing. “But nothing of the sort happened. The letter was given a quiet burial...”
He said Gupta should have marked the letter to the joint secretary and promptly processed the matter by putting a detailed note.
“The secretary and the joint secretary, both senior officers, were steel frame of the country. Not only no noting for prompt action was noted on the complaint letter but they never cared to follow it up and never enquired from the Section (concerned for action on the letter) the fate of the complaint letter.”
The court said the two simply marked the serious complaint without any direction for prompt action, which amounts to silence on their part.