New Delhi, July 27 (IANS) In the second conviction in a coal block allocation case, a special court on Wednesday awarded three year jail terms to two senior officials of Delhi-based Rathi Steel and Power Ltd. (RSPL) who were held guilty of illegal allocation of Chhattisgarh’s Kesla North coal block.
The court, while pronouncing the sentences, said that “white collar crimes are more dangerous to the society than ordinary offences”.
Special Judge Bharat Parashar awarded three years jail to RSPL CEO Udit Rathi and Managing Director Pradeep Rathi, and two years imprisonment to Assistant General Manager Kushal Aggarwal. The three were convicted under various charges dealing with criminal conspiracy and cheating.
Later, the court granted them bail to file an appeal against the judgement before the higher court, asking them to furnish a surety bond of Rs 2 lakh each.
The court slapped a fine of Rs 50 lakh against the company and Udit Rathi, and a fine of Rs 25 lakh against Pradeep Rathi, and Rs 5 lakh against Aggarwal.
The court noted: “Of late the anti social activities of persons of the upper socio-economic strata of the society in their occupation and which have come to be known as ‘white collar crimes’ have attracted attention.”
It defined white collar criminals as those from the upper socio-economic class who violate the criminal law in the course of their occupational or professional activities.
“Undoubtedly such ‘white collar crimes’ are more dangerous to the society than ordinary crimes, for the damage it inflicts on public morale and at the same time the financial losses caused are much higher,” the court said.
“It is however also true that to find criminality in such acts committed by ‘white collar criminals’ is often a difficult task primarily because they are committed after much deliberations and planning undertaken by well trained minds having a higher status in the society.”
On the defence by the convicts that no loss was caused to anyone as not even a single gram of coal could be extracted, the court opined that “it would suffice to state that non-extraction of coal in itself has caused huge loss to the country”.
“Non-availability of such an important raw material has in fact caused an immense loss to the country in its journey to achieve higher infrastructural/industrial development,” the court said.
“Thus it is the country as a whole which has suffered loss on account of such unscrupulous acts of the convicted persons.”
The court on Tuesday held that the “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 a conspiracy to cheat, while Udit Rathi and the company were also held guilty of substantive charges of cheating.
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 following an FIR against the company and its CEO registered on June 19, 2013.
Besides this case, around 19 other cases investigated by the CBI and two cases being probed by the Enforcement Directorate are pending before the court, set up to exclusively deal with all the coal block matters.