A special court today convicted Jharkhand Ispat Pvt Ltd (JIPL) and its two directors R. S. Rungta and R. C. Rungta in a case pertaining to irregularities in allotment of a coal block in the state to the firm, the first judgement in the coal scam.
Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar held the company and its two directors guilty of the offences under sections 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 420 (cheating) of IPC.
This is the first coal block allocation scam case in which the special court, which was set up to exclusively deal with all the coal scam matters, has delivered its judgement.
The court ordered that R S Rungta and R C Rungta, who were out on bail, be taken into custody and fixed the matter for March 31 for hearing arguments on the quantum of sentence.
The case pertains to irregularities in allocation of North Dhadu coal block by the 27th and 30th screening committees jointly to JIPL and three other firms M/s Electro Steel Casting Ltd, M/s Adhunik Alloys and Power Ltd and M/s Pawanjay Steel and Power Ltd.
While pronouncing the judgement, the court said that R S Rungta is acquitted of the charges under sections 468 (forgery for the purpose of cheating) and 471 (using a forged document as genuine) of IPC while R. C. Rungta is acquitted of the alleged offences of 467 (forgery of valuable security), 468 and 471 of IPC.
"I am convicting you (Rungtas) for the offences under sections 120B and 420 of IPC and the company is convicted under sections 120B read with 420 of IPC," the judge said.
An offence under section 420 (cheating) of IPC entails a jail term of upto seven years.
JIPL and its two directors were charged with acquiring the coal block on the basis of false and forged documents.
The court had in March last year framed charges against them for the offences punishable under sections 120B read with 420, 467, 468 and 471 of IPC.
They had pleaded not guilty and claimed trial, while refuting the submissions made against them by CBI.
On December 23, last year, the court had dismissed R. S. Rungta's plea to summon former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and ex-Minister of State for Coal Dasari Narayan Rao as defence witnesses in the case.
The court had enlarged Rungtas on bail on January 14, last year on a personal bond of Rs one lakh each and with one surety of the like amount.
In its charge sheet, CBI had said that during the probe, it was found that JIPL had "grossly misrepresented" a number of aspects before Ministry of Steel (MoS) and Ministry of Coal (MoC) to inflate their claim and thereby induced the MoC officers and the screening committees to allocate the coal block to them.
It had said no efforts were made by the screening committees to verify the claims made by the applicant firm and that MoS also did not develop any methodology for assessment of the applicant companies.
It had contended that some records of MoC relating to the case were stated to be missing and a separate preliminary enquiry has been registered by CBI.
CBI had said that no involvement of any of the public servant was found in the entire process during its probe.
The court had summoned the Rungtas on December 18, 2014. CBI had filed the FIR in the case in 2013.