Bagrodia seeks parity with Manmohan in coal scam case

New Delhi, Sep 21 (IANS) Former minister of state for coal Santosh Bagrodia on Monday sought parity with former prime minister Manmohan Singh seeking the stay of the criminal proceedings against him in a coal scam case, contending that his case of not being guilty of any wrongdoing was much more stronger.

Reiterating his position taken on September 7, Bagrodia told the bench of Justice M.B. Lokur, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice A.K. Sikri that he could not be treated differently from the former prime minister, stressing that that he was innocent but his reputation and future was being ruined.

Bagrodia was minister of state for coal under Manmohan Singh from April 2008 to May 2009. He was granted bail in the case on September 8.

Made an accused in the allocation of Maharashtra’s Bander coal block to AMR Iron and Steel Pvt Ltd, he said that he can produced evidence that there were continuous parleys between Kumaramangalam Birla and others including the then prime minister.

The apex court on April 1 had stayed the summons against Manmohan Singh issued by a special court in connection with the allocation of 15 percent share in the Talabira II coal block to the Birla-owned Hindalco.

Appearing for Bagrodia, senior counsel K.K.Venugopal told the court that his client was innocent but his “reputation and future was being ruined”.

Noting that there was only one apex court, Venugopal sought the reiteration of order passed by the bench of Justice V. Gopala Gowda and Justice C. Nagappan suspending the summons against Manmohan Singh by the special court.

He argued that when there was no dishonest intention, how could his client be arrayed as an accused, noting that nowhere in the trial court order there was a mens rea (criminal intention) alleged against him but still he was being proceeded against.

However, senior counsel A.Sharan took the court through the trial court order demonstrating that there were specific paragraphs imputing criminal intention against Bagrodia.

While adjoining the hearing for September 29, the court allowed Bagrodia to move an application before the trial court seeking exemption from appearing before it.

Besides Bagrodia, others summoned in the case were ex-Coal Secretary H C Gupta and retired bureaucrat L.S. Janoti. The case involves Rajya Sabha MP Vijay Darda, his son Devendra Darda, AMR Iron and Steel Pvt Ltd and its director Manoj Jayaswal.

They have been accused of alleged offences punishable under sections of the Indian Penal Code relating to criminal conspiracy, cheating, criminal breach of trust by public servant and under other provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

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