Dilip Ray was the Union minister of state for coal in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 1999.(HT FILE PHOTO)
Dilip Ray was the Union minister of state for coal in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 1999.(HT FILE PHOTO)

Former Union Minister Dilip Ray convicted in 1999 Jharkhand coal scam

The sentencing in the case has been set for October 14.
By Debabrata Mohanty | Hindustan Times, Bhubaneswar
UPDATED ON OCT 06, 2020 03:15 PM IST

Former Union minister of state for coal Dilip Ray was convicted on Tuesday by a special CBI court in New Delhi for his role in the irregularities of allocation of a coal block in Jharkhand in more than 20 years ago in 1999.

Special CBI judge Bharat Parashar convicted Ray, who was minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 1999, of criminal conspiracy and other offences. The court also convicted two former officials of Coal ministry Pradip Kumar Banerjee and Nitya Nand Gautam and director of Castron Technologies Ltd (CTL) Mahendra Kumar Agarwalla.

“There was a concerted effort by way of criminal conspiracy to facilitate misappropriation of the important nationalised natural resources of the country,” the court said.

“While discussing the role of Dilip Ray for the offence under section 13 (1) of PC Act, it has already been concluded that he acted with a dishonest and malafide intention and that too in clear violation of the unambiguous provisions of law. It clear that Dilip Ray dishonestly facilitated allocation of the abandoned non-nationalised coal mining area in favour of company CTL and that too in violation of the direction of law,” the court said.

The judge convicted the four persons and two firms for the alleged offences under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating) and 409 (Criminal breach of trust) of IPC and under the relevant provisions of Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act. The court will hear arguments on the quantum of sentence on October 14.

The case pertains to the alleged irregularities in allocation of Brahmadiha coal block in Giridih in Jharkhand to Castron Technologies Ltd in 1999. Ray is the first minister of the erstwhile NDA government who has been convicted in the coal scam case.

In its charge sheet, CBI had said that CTL had applied in May 1998 to the coal ministry for allotment of Brahmadiha coal block, but Coal India Limited told the ministry that mining it could be dangerous as the coal block was an abandoned mine area and was full of water. The file was again sent to Ray’s office on April 23, 1999 and on May 12, 1999, CTL submitted a fresh representation to the minister saying that their application may be considered expeditiously.

When the file came to the then union coal secretary from Ray’s office for re-examination on May 13, 1999 it was sent to additional secretary Nitya Nand Gautam’s desk. The CBI alleged that Gautam then made a complete u-turn from his previous observation after which the screening committee recommended CTL for allocation of the coal block subject to relaxation of guidelines by coal ministry.

On the basis of the approval accorded by Ray, a letter of allotment of Brahmadiha coal block in favour of CTL was issued on September 1, 1999 by the coal ministry. It alleged that after allocation of the block, CTL started extracting coal illegally even without grant of any mine opening permission by the concerned authorities.

Ray did not respond to messages seeking his response to the judgement.

Sixty-six-year-old Ray, a hotel tycoon and one of the founding members of the Biju Janata Dal in the 1990s had parted ways with the regional party in 2002. He was elected to the Rajya Sabha that year as an independent candidate with the support of some BJP MLAs of Odisha. He then joined the Congress in 2004 but quit it in 2008. In 2009, he joined the BJP and was elected as an MLA from Rourkela assembly constituency in 2014.

He, however, left the party in November 2018 after the Central Bureau of Investigation chargesheeted him in 2016 in the Brahmadiha coal scam case. Last year, there were wide speculations of his re-joining Biju Janata Dal before the elections after he met chief minister Naveen Patnaik a few times but nothing came off the meetings.

He is currently not associated with any political party.

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