HC Gupta & Five Convicted in Coal Block Allocation Case

Coal block allocation scam: 5 including former coal secretary HC Gupta convicted

Former Union Coal Secretary, HC Gupta and five other have been convicted in the coal block allocation case. The conviction is in connection with the allocation of Moira and Madhujore (North and South) coal blocks in West Bengal to Vikas Metal Power Ltd.

The CBI had registered an FIR in the case in September 2012. The Special court in Delhi held all of them guilty of criminal conspiracy and under other sections of Prevention of Corruption Act

The court has fixed December 3 for the argument on the quantum of sentence.

Gupta, was Coal Secretary for two years during the Congress-led United progressive Alliance (UPA) regime before he retired in 2008. He is facing trial in seven other cases of the coal scam.

In June 2017, Gupta was awarded jail term for irregularities in the allocation of Madhya Pradesh based Thesgora-B/Rudrapuri coal block to KSSPL. Then in December 2017, a special CBI court held the former coal secretary guilty in a coal allocation and mining scam from Jharkhand. Former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda was also convicted in the case.

The IAS officers’ association in 2016 came in support of Gupta after he broke down in the Court saying he did not have capacity to hire a lawyer to contest his case. The association then offered to pay his lawyers’ fees, said reports.

What is Coal allocation scam?

The case is popularly known as Coalgate. There was a huge political row over this case with several bureaucrats and leaders under the UPA regime coming under the scanner. A report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India showed inefficient and possibly illegal allocation of coal blocks between 2004 and 2009. It estimated loss to the exchequer to the tune of Rs 10.7 lakh crore. The amount was however toned down to Rs 1.86 lakh crore in the final report.

The point made in the CAG report was that there was improper allocation. It was said that this was to be done through competitive bidding. The government however avoided the competitive bidding, the CAG report said. The revenue secured from the allottees for the allocation was lesser than what could have been if there was competitive bidding, the report further stated.

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