Coal Scam: Ex-Minister Dilip Ray, Others Awarded 3-Year Jail Term By Delhi Court
Workers carry a bowl of coal at a coal wholesale market in Mumbai, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Coal Scam: Ex-Minister Dilip Ray, Others Awarded 3-Year Jail Term By Delhi Court

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A Delhi court on Monday awarded a three-year jail term to former Union minister Dilip Ray in a coal scam case pertaining to irregularities in the allocation of a Jharkhand block in 1999, saying white-collar crimes are "more dangerous" than ordinary ones because of the "damages inflicted on public morale".

Besides Ray, the 68-year old former minister of state (coal) in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, Special Judge Bharat Parashar also awarded 3-year jail term each to two senior officials of the ministry at that time -- Pradip Kumar Banerjee and Nitya Nand Gautam, both about 80-year-old.

The court also awarded 3-year jail term to Castron Technologies Ltd director Mahendra Kumar Agarwalla.

The court, however, granted bail to the convict persons to enable them to approach the high court against the verdict.

It also imposed a fine of Rs 10 lakh on Ray, Rs 2 lakh on Banerjee and Gautam, while Agarwalla was asked to pay a fine of Rs 60 lakh.

It imposed Rs 60 lakh on CTL and Rs 10 lakh on Castron Mining Ltd. , also held guilty in the case.

In response to the convicts' argument that no loss was caused to anyone in the matter since almost the entire amount of extracted coal was surrendered to the government, the court said, non-availability of sufficient raw material such as coal has in fact resulted in the lack of infrastructural or industrial development of the country.

“Had coal block been allocated to a deserving applicant company after following the due process of law and the company would have proceeded to extract coal so as to use it captively in its end use project then it would have certainly added to the infrastructural/ industrial development of the country,” the court said.

“...arbitrary allocation of coal blocks as has been seen in the present matter to unscrupulous persons who never intended to establish any end use project in itself has caused huge loss to the nation which is difficult to be computable in monetary terms,” the court said.

The court said the case involved commission of white collar crimes and that too by people occupying high places in the society.

The convicts had urged the court to take a lenient view considering their old age and that they were never convicted earlier.

The Central Bureau of Investigation, represented by public prosecutors VK Sharma and AP Singh, however, had sought maximum punishment for the convicts.

The court had convicted all the five accused persons for various offences including criminal conspiracy (120-B of IPC), criminal breach of trust by public servant (409 of IPC), cheating (420 of IPC) and corruption (PC Act).

It had convicted sixth accused - CML - for theft (379 of IPC).

Regarding Ray, the judge had said that he dishonestly facilitated allocation of the abandoned non-nationalised coal mining area in favour of CTL and that too in violation of the direction of law.

He thus dishonestly allowed misappropriation of the said coal mining area by company CTL, he said.

The case pertains to allocation of Brahmadiha coal block in Giridih in Jharkhand to CTL in 1999.

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