IAS trio convicted in coal scam

A CBI court today convicted former coal secretary H.C. Gupta and two other IAS officers, including the current chief secretary of Meghalaya, of irregularities in coal block allocation.

By Our Special Correspondent
  • Published 20.05.17
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KS Kropha

New Delhi, May 19: A CBI court today convicted former coal secretary H.C. Gupta and two other IAS officers, including the current chief secretary of Meghalaya, of irregularities in coal block allocation.

K.S. Kropha, the Meghalaya chief secretary, was joint secretary in the Union coal ministry at the time of the allocation in November 2008. The third officer is K.C. Samaria, the then director who has now retired.

The three, who are the first senior government officials to be convicted in the coal scam, have been found guilty of corruption, cheating and criminal conspiracy.

Special CBI court judge Bharat Parashar also held Pawan Kumar Ahluwalia, the managing director of Kamal Sponge Steel and Power Ltd (KSSPL) that was awarded the Thesgora-B Rudrapur coal block in Madhya Pradesh, guilty of cheating and criminal conspiracy.

The court will pronounce the quantum of punishment on May 22.

During trial, the CBI had alleged that the application filed by KSSPL for the coal block was incomplete and should have been rejected by the ministry as it was not in accordance with guidelines issued by it.

The investigating agency had also accused the company of misrepresenting its net worth and pointed out that the Madhya Pradesh government had not recommended the firm for the allocation of the coal block.

All the accused had denied the allegations.

Gupta was coal secretary for nearly two years under UPA I before retiring in 2008. He had chaired the screening committee for coal block allocation and had been accused of not following a transparent auctioning system and favouring private companies, causing losses in crores to tax payers.

During the hearing last year, Gupta had claimed that then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had given the "final approval" for the allocation of the coal block to KSSPL.

The court had framed charges against the accused observing that Singh, who had been holding the coal portfolio, had been "kept in the dark" by Gupta. The CBI too had told the court that the officer had misled the then Prime Minister.

Officials in the Meghalaya main secretariat building, where chief secretary Kropha's office is located, refused comment on the conviction. Kropha is in Delhi, sources said. The officer could not be reached on phone.

Yeshi Tsering, the senior-most IAS officer among the additional chief secretaries in Meghalaya, refused comment.

The principal secretary in charge of the personnel department, Rebecca Suchiang, said: "Nothing official has come."

Kropha, a 1982-batch IAS officer of the Assam-Meghalaya cadre, is known to be a soft-spoken officer. He became chief secretary on February 29, 2016. Kropha is set to retire in December.

A senior lawyer said the convicted officials could appeal in a high court within 60 days.