Special CBI court convicts former union minister in coal block scam

A special CBI Court today convicted Dilip Ray, the then Union Minister of State for Coal in the erstwhile National Democratic Alliance (NDA) for his alleged involvement in the coal block allocation scandal.

Ray was then a minister of State in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 1999. The Court will decide the quantum of sentence on October 14.

As first reported by ET on April 26, 2017 the Court had framed charges against Ray and four co-accused in the case. The five, including Ray had been charged with cheating, criminal conspiracy and corruption charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The case pertains to the alleged irregularities in allocation of Brahmadiha coal block in Giridh in Jharkhand to Castron Technologies Limited in 1999.

While framing charges the CBI Judge had held that the five “entered into a criminal conspiracy” to procure allocation of Brahmadiha coal in favour of M/s Castron Technologies Limited by adopting various “illegal means viz by making false claims about the proposed end use projects in different applications”.

And that, the Court had held “by various acts of omission and commission amounting to criminal misconduct/cheating and criminal breach of trust by public servant by all the accused persons committed the offence of criminal conspiracy and within my cognizance”.

The framing of charge order further read “secondly, during the aforesaid period and in furtherance of common object of the criminal conspiracy” they all did “various acts of cheating and criminal misconduct and criminal breach of trust by public servant and substantive charges framed separately and you all thereby committed offences punishable under Section 120-B read with 409/420 IPC and 13 (1)(c) & 13 (1) (d) of Prevention of Corruption Act 1988”.

Passing the order in 2017, special CBI Judge had put all the five accused to trial. Those charged, besides Ray, are M/s Castron Technologies Limited; its Director Mahendra Kumar Agarwalla; Pradip Kumar Banerjee, the then Additional Secretary and Nitya Nand Gautam, former advisor (projects) in the ministry of coal.

Summoning the accused in 2016, the CBI Court had held that there was “sufficient incriminating evidence” against them. This was after the CBI filed a detailed charge sheet against the accused, including Ray, on December 21, 2015.

In its order, passed January 15 , 2016, the CBI Court had indicted the accused. The Court had held that “the public servants in fact actively connived with the private parties involved so as to facilitate the misappropriation of the nationalised natural resources of the country by them. All the public servants thus failed to pass the test of observing those reasonable safeguards against detriment to the public interest, which having regard to all circumstances it was their duty to have adopted”.

Regarding Ray’s involvement, the Court had held “it is thus prime facie clear that the decision made by the screening committee and the subsequent relaxation of guidelines by Dilip Ray was made without keeping public interest in mind and with manifest disregard to the consequences that such an act would surely undermine the public interest”.

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