Coal case: Court convicts Rathi Steel, three officials

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New Delhi, July 26 (IANS) In the second conviction in a coal block allocation case, a special court on Tuesday held Delhi-based Rathi Steel and Power Ltd. (RSPL) and three officials guilty of illegal allocation of Chhattisgarh’s Kesla North coal block.

Special Judge Bharat Parashar convicted the company and its CEO Udit Rathi, Managing Director Pradeep Rathi and Assistant General Manager Kushal Aggarwal on various charges dealing with criminal conspiracy and cheating.

The court held that “ministry of coal clearly stood cheated on account of the dishonest acts of accused persons resulting in allotment of Kesla North coal block to company RSPL”.

The court convicted Udit Rathi, Pradeep Rathi, Aggarwal and the company for the offence of hatching conspiracy to cheat, while Udit Rathi and the company were also held guilty of substantive charges of cheating.

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The court ordered that they be taken into judicial custody and fixed Wednesday for delivering its order on quantum of sentence.

Senior Public Prosecutor V.K. Sharma requested the court to award maximum punishment to the convicts.

Defence counsel of the accused sought leniency on the basis of their good conduct during the trial.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had charge-sheeted the company and the three officials follwoing an FIR against the company and its CEO registered on June 19, 2013.

“…it is crystal clear that the accused persons with a dishonest intention and in pursuance to the common intention and in pursuance to the common object of a criminal conspiracy hatched amongst themselves deceived the screening committee and thereby ministry of coal, government of India on the basis of false representation qua the issue of land showing a higher status/stage of progress made by them towards establishing the end use project so as to procure allotment of a coal block in favour of RSPL,” the court said.

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“The false representation thus continued to hold ground even when the file containing recommendation of screening committee went to (then) prime minister as minister-in-charge, coal, government of India for final approval and thus it was primarily the government which was deceived into making allotment of a coal block in favour of RSPL while believing all such representation to be true, which in fact were not.”

The court said: “All the necessary ingredients of the offence of cheating coupled with dishonestly inducing delivery of property having been carried out in furtherance of the common object of a criminal conspiracy hatched by the accused persons thus clearly stands proved beyond shadows of all reasonable doubts.”

The prosecution has examined 20 witnesses to support its case.

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Besides this case, around 19 other cases investigated by the CBI are pending before the court, set up to exclusively to deal with all the coal block matters.

On April 4, the court awarded four-year jail term to two directors of Jharkhand Ispat Pvt. Ltd., holding them guilty of criminal conspiracy and cheating in bagging the North Dhadu coal block in Jharkhand to the firm JIPL.



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