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Coal Scam: Former Steel Ministry official appeals against his conviction; Delhi HC issues notice to CBI

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday issued notice to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in an appeal moved by Gautam Kumar Basak, former Executive Secretary, Joint Plant Committee (JPC) in the Union Steel Ministry challenging his conviction and three-year jail term by a trial Court in a case of corruption in coal block allocation.
The bench of Justice Amit Sharma while seeking a reponse from the CBI, also suspended Basak’s sentence till December 15 this year.
Advocate Ajeet Singh appeared for the appellant Gautam Kumar Basak in the matter in the Delhi High Court.
A trial court had on August 22 this year awarded three years of rigorous imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 5 lakh upon Basak. The trial court had also acquitted the Soumen Chaterjee co-accused in the matter.
Special Judge Arun Bhardwaj had convicted Gautam Kumar Basak under Section- 13(2) read with Section 13 (1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988.
According to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), The Union Ministry of Coal (MOC) had in November 2006 invited applications from the companies engaged in generation of power, steel and cement for allocation of coal blocks for captive power plants/independent power plants.
In response to the advertisement issued by MOC, number of companies applied for coal blocks. Prakash Industries Ltd. had applied for Vijay Central Coal Block situated in Chhattisgarh. Earlier Chotia Coal Block was allocated to Prakash Industries Ltd, said CBI.
CBI further added that in the application dated January 12, 2007 submitted to Unnion Coal Ministry, Prakash Industries Ltd. had claimed its sponge iron production capacity as 8 MTPA. Believing the claim made by Prakash Industries Ltd, the Screening Committee of the Ministry of Coal recommended joint allocation of Vijay Central Coal Block in favour of  Prakash Industries Ltd. and SKS ISpat Ltd. & Ors.
These recommendations were sent to the Prime Minister’s Office for final approval. In the meantime complaints were lodged by SKS Ispat Ltd, Youth Anti-Corruption Bureau, and Om Prakash, Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha, Samajwadi Party alleging that Prakash Industries Ltd. has secured recommendation of the Screening Committee by furnishing false information about its capacity.
In view of these complaints, the Coal Ministry directed the Steel Ministry to verify the claims made by Prakash Industries Ltd. in its application.
Accordingly, the Ministry of Steel directed Gautam Kumar Basak to conduct on the spot verification of the plant of  Prakash Industries Ltd. at Champa, Raipur Chhattisgarh.
On August 4, 2008, Basak along with Soumen Chatterjee Manager, JPC allegedly visited the plant of M/s Prakash Industries Ltd., at Champa, Raipur Chhattisgarh and on August 5, 2008 submitted a false report supporting the claims of Prakash Industries Ltd and mentioning that Prakash Industries Ltd, has four kilns and its sponge iron production capacity is 8 MTPA.
This false report submitted by Basak was forwarded by the Ministry of Steel to the Ministry of Coal and the Prime Minister’s Office, said CBI.
Again SKS Ispat Ltd and Youth Anti-Corruption Bureau(NGO) lodged complaints with the Ministry of Steel and Ministry of Coal.
Ultimately one Inter-Ministerial committee was constituted by the Centre to find out the truth. This Inter-Ministerial committee conducted on the spot verification and concluded that Prakash Industries Ltd, had furnished false information about its capacity in its application and Basak submitted false verification report to support the claims made by Prakash Industries Ltd.
In this matter FIR was registered by CBI on April 7, 2010.

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