New Delhi, December 5: A Delhi court today pronounced the quantum of punishment in a coal scam pertaining to the alleged irregularities in allocation of Moira and Madhujore (North and South) coal blocks in West Bengal to Vikash Metals and Power Ltd.
Special Judge Bharat Parashar sentenced H C Gupta and other two bureaucrats, K S Kropha and K C Samria to three-year imprisonment and also imposed fine of Rs. 50,000 on each.
The Court ruled,
"Such white collar crimes are in fact more dangerous to the society than ordinary crimes, firstly, because the financial losses are much higher, and, secondly because of the damages inflicted on public morale."
"The average loss from ordinary crimes such as burglaries, robberies and larcenies etc. may run into few thousand rupees only but the loss which the 'white collar crimes' may run not only in lakhs but in crores of rupees."
The Court also sentenced other convicted persons Vikash Patni, firm's MD, to four years imprisonment along with a fine of Rs. 25 lakh and Anand Mallick authorised signatory of the firm, also for four years imprisonment and imposed Rs. 2 lakh as a fine upon him.
The Court also imposed fine of Rs. 1 lakh on the company.
Nonetheless, the convicts were later granted statutory bail in order to file appeals against the verdict.
On November 30, Delhi Court held ex-coal secretary H C Gupta and others were held guilty of the offences of corruption and criminal conspiracy in a coal scam and taken them taken into judicial custody.
The investigating agency, CBI, sought a maximum seven years imprisonment for all convicted persons along with the imposition of heavy fine on the private firm.
As per the facts, HC Gupta acted as a Coal Secretary for two years under the Congress-led UPA government and retired in the year 2008. He was named as an accused in total 11 cases related to the coal blocks allocation scam, including one for allocation of Moira and Madhujore (North and South) coal blocks in West Bengal.
He has already been convicted and sentenced earlier in two cases which were in connection with Kamal Sponge Steel and Power Ltd (KSSPL) and Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd (VISUL) and is out on bail in both the cases.
In September 2012, the CBI had registered an FIR in the case. However, the agency later filed a closure report on the ground that charges against VMPL and others were not substantiated during its probe. Nonetheless, the Court declined to accept so and rejected the closure report on 15 Oct 2014, and further directed the agency to investigate the matter.
In 2016, Special CBI court framed charges of criminal conspiracy and cheating against HC Gupta and five others in the Coal scam under sections 120-B for criminal conspiracy and for the offences under sections 120-B, 409 which deals with criminal breach of trust by public servants, 420 for cheating of IPC and under sections 13(1)(c) and 13(1)(d) for criminal misconduct by public servants of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
H C Gupta and others, however, in the case pleaded not guilty and claimed trial.