New Delhi: Industrialist Naveen Jindal today denied CBI's allegation that he was part of any conspiracy in a coal scam case, saying if he had, he would have got the name of Lanco Infratech Ltd removed instead of his group firm JSW Energy Ltd from the Jharkhand government's recommendation.
Senior advocate S V Raju, who appeared before a special court for the former MP, argued that CBI's case was that then Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda had inserted Gagan Sponge Iron Private Ltd (GSIPL) in place of JSW Energy Ltd which was recommended by a three member sub-committee formed by the state government.
According to CBI, the sub-committee, formed to look into applications seeking allocation of coal blocks, had recommended Lanco Infratech Ltd, JSW Energy Ltd and Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) for Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block in a ratio of 40 per cent, 30 per cent and 30 per cent shares respectively.
"CBI's case is that JSW was removed from recommendation which was sent to the Ministry of Coal and GSIPL's name was inserted. If there was any conspiracy, I could have asked the Chief Minister to remove Lanco Infratech Ltd and not JSW which was a group company of Jindal group," Raju told Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar.
"If any conspiracy was hatched, name of Lanco Infratech Ltd could have gone out and not JSW," he told during arguments on framing of charges in the case.
He further said, "CBI's case is that my client wanted 100 per cent share of Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block. If it was so, I would have conspired to remove Lanco's name from the recommendation. Why Madhu Koda would have allowed Lanco to remain there if there was any conspiracy?"
Raju also said it was a case of no evidence and the case was based "purely on the surmises and conjectures" as far as Jindal is concerned.
During the hearing which would continue tomorrow, the counsel for accused company JSPL also advanced arguments on charges in the case relating to alleged irregularities in allocation of Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block in Jharkhand to JSPL and GSIPL.
Jindal, Koda, former Minister of State for Coal Dasari Narayan Rao, ex-Coal Secretary H C Gupta and 11 others were chargesheeted by CBI in the case. Jindal's counsel also told the court that if Koda had removed Lanco's name from the recommendation then there might be a so-called conspiracy but "look at what he has done. He allowed Lanco to remain there and removed the name of JSW which was a Jindal group company."
"The conduct also shows that there was no conspiracy at all," he said, adding, "There is no evidence as far as Jindal's role is concerned. There is no illegal act in the case."
Senior advocate N Hariharan, who appeared for JSPL, told the court that there was no misrepresentation as far as the firm is concerned.
"A conscious decision was taken by the sub-committee regarding recommendation for coal block. I had no role to play in that," he said, adding, "the sub-committee decided it on the basis of the facts placed before it. JSPL did not misrepresent anything before sub-committee or the screening committee."
He further argued, "Screening committee justifiably made its recommendations after going through all recommendations and facts placed before it. The final approval was given by the Minister of Coal who was the then Prime Minister."
He said that even in JSPL's application form, Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block was not the first preference as it was at a place affected by the Naxal problem and no firm was interested in this block due to this serious issue.
CBI had earlier told the court that entire system in Jharkhand government was "manipulated" to favour Jindal group companies so that Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block could be allocated to them.
Other individual accused in the case are Rajeev Jain, Director of Jindal Realty Pvt Ltd, Girish Kumar Suneja and Radha Krishna Saraf, Directors of GSIPL, Suresh Singhal, Director of New Delhi Exim Pvt Ltd, K Ramakrishna Prasad, Managing Director of Sowbhagya Media Ltd and chartered accountant Gyan Swaroop Garg. These accused are presently out on bail.
Besides the ten accused, five firms JSPL, Jindal Realty Pvt Ltd, Gagan Infraenergy Ltd (formerly known as GSIPL), Sowbhagya Media Ltd and New Delhi Exim Pvt Ltd are also accused in the case.