A Special CBI court on Friday convicted former Coal Secretary H.C. Gupta and Joint Secretary K.S. Kropha, Grace Industries Ltd, Nagpur, and its Director Mukesh Gupta in a case related to the allocation of Lohara East Coal block in Maharashtra.
“The evidence on record as encapsulated above shows that there was criminal conspiracy amongst Grace Industries Ltd, Mukesh Gupta, H.C. Gupta and K.S. Kropha for procuring recommendation of allocation of Lohara East Coal Block in favour of Grace Industries,” special judge Arun Bhardwaj said in the order.
“There were no ripples in spite of coming to know that Grace Industries Ltd had made false representations regarding kiln infrastructure and production capacity,” the order said.
“In the opinion of this court, the circumstantial evidence noted above is sufficient to return a finding that there was a criminal conspiracy amongst these four accused persons for securing recommendation of Screening Committee in favour of Grace Industries Ltd and for allocation of Lohara East Coal Block in favour of M/s GIL,” it added.
The coal block, located in an area of 3.5 sq km and was having estimated geological reserves of approximately 57 million tons, was jointly allocated to Grace Industries along with Murli Industries Ltd.
As per the CBI statement, during the investigation, it was revealed that Grace Industries had secured an allocation of 16.14 million tons of coal reserves in the Lohara East coal block on the basis of false information about net worth, capacity, equipments and status of procurement and installation of plant.
It was found that the said private company, in its application, claimed its net worth as Rs 120 crore whereas its own net worth was Rs 3.3 crore and falsified its existing capacity as 1,20,000 TPA against actual project capacity of 30,000 TPA.
The company claimed 2 kilns in production and 3 kilns under installation whereas as on September 7, 2006, it had only one kiln in operation.
After allocation of coal block, Mukesh Gupta sold the entire equity/share of his company to another person at a profit of about Rs 20 crore.
It was found that 51 private Companies had applied for the said coal block, however, criteria for inter se priority was not followed to determine the most suitable company.
The company had also submitted an incomplete application, which as per the guidelines of the Coal Ministry, was liable to be rejected.
However, officials concerned of the Ministry did not ensure scrutiny of applications. Moreover, the application of the company was also not sent to the Steel Ministry, the administrative ministry concerned, for its assessment.
It was also found that the company was recommended for allocation of coal block without the recommendations of the Ministries of Steel and Power and the Maharashtra government. Moreover, excess coal was allotted to the company despite a written complaint made by the other allottee company.
After a thorough investigation, a charge sheet was filed on October 28, 2014, and the charges were framed on June 7, 2016 against six accused.
The trial court found the four accused guilty, and acquitted two. Arguments on the sentence will be heard on August 4.