New Delhi: The coal blocks allocation scam that had created a political storm during the UPA-II regime today witnessed the first conviction, with a special court holding Jharkhand Ispat Private Limited (JIPL) and its two Directors guilty of various charges including deceiving and defrauding the government to bag a coal block in the state.
The court convicted JIPL and its directors R S Rungta and R C Rungta for the offence of cheating and criminal conspiracy under the IPC, observing that they had "fraudulently" and with a dishonest intention "deceived" the government in allocating the North Dhadu coal block in Jharkhand to the firm.
"Coming now to the case in hand, it is crystal clear that accused persons (JIPL and Rungtas) fraudulently with dishonest intention deceived Screening Committee, MOC (Ministry of Coal), and thereby Government of India on the basis of false representation qua the issue of land and as regard the installed/projected capacity of their end use project so as to procure allotment of a coal block in favour of M/s JIPL," Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar said.
In its 132-page judgement, the court held that the "false representation" by the convicts "continued to hold ground even when the file containing recommendation of Screening Committee went to 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 M/s JIPL while believing all such representations to be true, which in fact they were not."
"The intention to defraud on the part of accused persons is writ large on the face of record," the court said. It observed that offence of cheating under section 420 of the IPC was made out against the three convicts as their act resulted in "delivery of a valuable security", that is issuance of allocation letter for allotment of coal block to the firm.
The Rungtas, who were out on bail and were present in the courtroom when the verdict was pronounced, were ordered to be taken into custody and the court has now fixed the matter for March 31 for hearing arguments on quantum of sentence.
Besides this case, 19 other cases investigated by the CBI are pending before the court, which was set up to exclusively deal with all the coal scam matters. Two other cases probed by Enforcement Directorate (ED) is also pending before the court.
In its verdict, the court observed that from the overall facts and circumstances of the case, it was crystal clear that the actions of "accused in making all such false claims knowing them to be false were actuated with an intention to deceive MOC and thereby Government of India."