Lunch-room, coffee-shop conversations do not affect judgements: Special Court

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New Delhi, Dec 9 (IANS) A special court dealing with coal-block allocation cases has said that coffee-shop and lunch-room conversations of lawyers and judges do not affect court proceedings or decisions in any manner.

Special Judge Bharat Parashar’s observation came as a reminder to advocate Rahul Tyagi, defence counsel of two former coal officials, who had submitted that it was the talk of the “bar” that the convicted persons were sent to jail by the court “only on account of their conduct” during the course of the trial.

“In this regard, I deem it appropriate to remind counsel that the coffee-shop talks of lawyers about judges or the lunch-room talks of the judges about lawyers, does not in any manner affect the proceedings in the court of law or any decision being made therein,” the Special Judge said in his order of December 5.

The court had sentenced former Coal Secretary H.C. Gupta and two former officials, K.S. Kropha and K.C. Samria, to three years in jail while holding them guilty of conspiring to get the Moira-Madhujore coal block of West Bengal allocated in favour of Vikash Metal and Power Ltd (VMPL).

Counsel Rahul Tyagi, while addressing arguments on quantum of sentence, stated that he will no longer be representing coal officials Kropha and Samria in the court in any matter as his conscience does not permit him to participate in the proceedings as they were “convicted despite knowing that they are innocent”.

Responding to the submission made by defence counsel, the court said: “In this regard, it will suffice to state that such kind of statements being made by a defence counsel is completely uncalled for.”

The judge opined that it is the sole discretion of the advocate concerned to accept any brief on behalf of a given client or not.

Talking to IANS, counsel Tyagi said: “The coal officers (Kropha and Samria) are honest and innocent as even after more than six years of intensive and extensive investigations by CBI, it has not found any evidence of illegality of quid pro quo, illegal gratification or undue advantage or disproportionate assets on the part of these officers and nor has the judge in his judgement.”

Tyagi said that an imaginary case was made out against coal officers based on conjectures.

However, the judge, in the order, observed that “during the course of arguments itself (the court) put a pointed question to defence counsel (Tyagi) as to whether the proceedings have been properly recorded during the course of the present trial, to which counsel Rahul Tyagi very candidly stated that he is not disputing that the proceedings have been properly recorded”.

The CBI’s counsel welcomed the decision and said that despite no recommendation from the West Bengal government and Steel Ministry, Gupta, Kropha and Samaria recommended VMPL for the Moira-Madhujore coal block.

Earlier, Kropha and Samaria were convicted in a case related to irregularities in the allocation of Thesgora-B Rudrapuri coal block in Madhya Pradesh to Kamal Sponge Steel and Power Limited.

Kropha is being tried in eight cases while Samaria is facing five cases related to coal block allocation.

(Amiya Kumar Kushwaha can be reached at [email protected])

–IANS

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