New Delhi: A special court on Wednesday granted bail to former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda in a coal blocks allocation scam case despite opposition from the CBI.
The CBI had this morning opposed the bail pleas of Madhu Koda and seven others alleging that they have conspired and abused their position to favour accused firm Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd in allocation of a coal block.
The agency told Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar that besides Koda, the other accused in the case were ex-Jharkhand Chief Secretary Ashok Kumar Basu, ex-Coal Secretary HC Gupta, and being politicians and public servants they might influence the witnesses in the matter.
"The prosecution case is based on oral testimonies. The public servants, politicians are very much influential persons and their submissions that they were not arrested earlier reflects that they are very influential," the senior public prosecutor VK Sharma told the court.
Sharma also told the court that Gupta had "misled" the Prime Minister's office regarding the recommendation made by screening committee, of which he was the Chairman at that time.
Opposing their bail pleas, Special Public Prosecutor RS Cheema said the witnesses might be influenced in the case.
Koda, Basu, Gupta, public servants Bipin Bihari Singh and Basant Kumar Bhattacharya, Kolkata-based Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd (VISUL)'s Director Vaibhav Tulsyan, Chartered Accountant Navin Kumar Tulsyan and Koda's alleged close aide Vijay Joshi appeared in the court following the summons issued against them.
The case pertains to alleged irregularities in allocation of Jharkhand's Rajhara North coal block to VISUL.
These eight accused appeared before the court and their advocates moved separate bail pleas on their behalf.
Seeking bail, Koda's counsel told the court that the screening committee had already recommended allocation of coal block to VISUL and he had nothing to do with it.
His counsel contended that Koda had co-operated during the investigation and CBI had not arrested him, so there was no requirement to send him to judicial custody now.
Similarly counsel appearing for the other seven accused contended that their clients had cooperated in the probe and there was no allegation that they would tamper with evidence or influence any witnesses.
The court after hearing the arguments on the bail pleas reserved its order for 3 pm today. The court had on January 20 summoned as accused Koda and seven others.
The court had said that prima facie it was clear that there was a concerted effort by way of a criminal conspiracy on the part of Gupta, Koda, Basu, Bhattacharya, Singh along with Joshi, Vaibhav Tulsyan, Navin Kumar Tulsyan and VISUL to facilitate misappropriation of the important nationalised natural resource of the country.
The court had taken cognisance of the offences under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) read with 420 (cheating) and 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servants) of the IPC and under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Out of the eight accused persons, CBI did not charge sheet Navin Kumar Tulsyan saying no prosecutable evidence could come on record during the course of investigation.
However, the court had summoned him as an accused saying that being the chartered accountant, Navin allegedly gave a false certificate to facilitate VISUL to misrepresent about its net-worth and turn-over to acquire the coal block.
It had said there was no need for sanction under section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act to prosecute Gupta and Basu as they have since retired.
Similarly, it had said that Koda's term of the Legislative Assembly during which he was the Chief Minister of Jharkhand, has also expired so there was no need for sanction to prosecute him.
Regarding Bhattacharya, who was then section officer in department of Mines in Jharkhand, and Singh, the then Director Mines in Jharkhand, the court had said that sanction to prosecute them for alleged offence under PC Act has already been accorded by Jharkhand government and placed on record.
The CBI, in its charge sheet, had said that VISUL had applied for allocation of Rajhara North coal block on January 8, 2007 to the Ministry of Coal.
CBI said although the Jharkhand government and Steel Ministry did not recommend the case of VISUL for the coal block allocation, the 36th Screening Committee recommended the block to the accused firm.
With PTI inputs