Delhi's Special Court of Judge Sanjay Bansal on Wednesday sentenced former Rajya Sabha Congress MP Vijay Darda and his son Devender Darda, who runs the Lokmat Group of newspapers, and Manoj Kumar Jaiswal, director of JLD Yavatmal Energy Pvt Ltd, to four years in jail in a case relating to the irregularities in the allocation of a coal block in Chhattisgarh.
The court also sentenced former coal secretary HC Gupta, as well as senior public servants KS Kropha and KC Samria, to a three-year jail term in the same case.
Accused guilty of criminal conspiracy
The judge had earlier this month held the accused guilty of criminal conspiracy (punishable under Section 120-B of IPC) and cheating (punishable under section 420 of IPC), as well as some sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The court accepted the submissions made by senior public prosecutor AP Singh that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was able to prove its case beyond all reasonable doubt. It had on November 20, 2014, refused to accept the closure report submitted by the CBI in the case and had directed the federal probe agency to investigate it afresh, stating that the former MP had “misrepresented” facts in letters written to the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who held the coal portfolio.
Coal block scandal
This was a major scandal that had rocked the Manmohan Singh government in 2012 after the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) panned it for inefficient allocation of 194 coal blocks to public sector enterprises and private companies between 2004 and 2009 for captive use in a non-transparent manner.