During enquiry, it was revealed that the Lalgarh (North) Coal block was identified in favour of the company by the 19th Screening Committee. (Representational)
During enquiry, it was revealed that the Lalgarh (North) Coal block was identified in favour of the company by the 19th Screening Committee. (Representational)

Special CBI court convicts Ranchi firm, 4 employees in Lalgarh coal scam

The court noted that the accused acted in a synchronised manner and conspired to cheat both the ministries of coal and steel to get the allocation in favour of their Ranchi-based company.
By HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON SEP 15, 2021 02:47 AM IST

A special court on Tuesday convicted five persons in connection with an alleged coal scam case related to Lalgarh (North) coal block allocated in 2003, saying they acted in a synchronised manner and conspired to cheat both the ministries of coal and steel to get the allocation in favour of their Ranchi-based company.

The court convicted Binay Prakash, then Managing Director of Domco Private Limited, Ranchi, Vasant Diwakar Manjrekar and Paramananda Mondal, both then Directors of Domco Private Limited, Sanjay Khandewal, a chartered accountant in Kolkata and the company Domco Pvt. Ltd. in the coal scam case. The court will decide on the quantum of punishment on September 15.

Special Judge Arun Bhardwaj said, “They have acted in tandem to achieve their objective of securing allocation of Lalgarh (North) Coal Block in favour of A-1 (Ms Domco) by cheating Ministry of Steel (MoS), screening committee and MoC. Each one of them played his role. Lead role has been played by A-2 (Binay Prakash) being the Managing Director of the company who was corresponding with MoS and MoC making false submissions regarding availability of land with the company and financial preparedness to set up the plant,” the court said in its order.”

According to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the case was registered on the basis of a preliminary enquiry initiated by the central agency on the directions received from the Chief Vigilance Commission related to coal blocks allocated during the period from 1993 to 2005.

During enquiry, it was revealed that the Lalgarh (North) Coal block was identified in favour of the company by the 19th Screening Committee and accordingly, the company was intimated by Ministry of Coal (MoC) through a letter dated November 24, 2003. The charge sheet was filed on December 22, 2015 against the accused.

CBI had alleged that Prakash, promoter director of Domco, entered into conspiracy with unidentified persons and submitted false information to authorities while applying for the block. It is alleged that Prakash made gains to the tune of 7 crore by selling shares of the company on premium, after the allocation of the coal block.

On Tuesday, the court said it is apparent that Prakash, Manjrekar and Mondol being the Managing Director, Director and Director (Technical) respectively had a clear motive of making profits by securing allocation of Lalgarh (North) Coal Block in favour of A-1 company.

“The synchronized manner in which A-1 (Ms Domco), A-2 (Prakash), A-3 (Manjrekar), A-4 (Mondol) and A-6 (Khandelwal) acted shows that they had definitely conspired with each other to cheat MoS, MoC and the Screening Committee by inducing them to believe about availability of land with the company and financial preparedness so that they are able to secure allocation of Lalgarh (North) Coal Block in favour of A-1 company,” the court said.

“A-4 (Mondol), another Director of the company too conspired and certified false balance sheets. A-3, (Manjrekar) Director (Technical) too contributed in deceiving 19th Screening Committee believe that the applicant company owns 150 acres of land. This would not have been possible but for a conspiracy amongst A1, A-2, A-3 and A-4. A-6 has helped these accused persons by auditing false balance sheets though he was not even the Auditor of the company,” the court added in a 140-page judgment.

The court said even though conspiracies are hatched in complete darkness and direct evidence is seldom available, it can be proved like any other offence on the basis of circumstantial evidence.

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