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Business News/ Politics / Policy/  CBI charges Naveen Jindal, 14 others in coal block allocation case
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CBI charges Naveen Jindal, 14 others in coal block allocation case

Naming of Congress leader can hurt prospects of party, which is trying to revive itself after a series of electoral setbacks

Industrialist and senior Congress party leader Naveen Jindal. Photo: Sushil Kumar/HTPremium
Industrialist and senior Congress party leader Naveen Jindal. Photo: Sushil Kumar/HT

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday chargesheeted industrialist and senior Congress party leader Naveen Jindal and 14 others, including former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda, regarding alleged “irregularities" in the allocation of the Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block in Jharkhand in 2008.

The others named in the chargesheet include former minister of state for coal Dasari Narayana Rao, former coal secretary H.C. Gupta, Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) and Jindal Realty Pvt. Ltd, Gagan Sponge Iron Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi Exim Pvt. Ltd and Sowbhagya Media Ltd.

“CBI had registered a case U/s 120-B (conspiracy) r/w 420 (cheating) of the IPC and 13(1) (d) of PC Act (The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988) against then minister of state for coal; director of a steel company; four Delhi-based private firms; one Hyderabad-based private firm and others, in relation to alleged irregularities in allocation of Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block in the state of Jharkhand. It was alleged that two steel and iron companies based in Delhi misrepresented facts to get coal blocks. Also, there was alleged investment in a Hyderabad-based firm from the group of companies based at Delhi," the CBI said in a press release on Wednesday.

Section 13(1)(d) defines criminal misconduct by a public servant, when such a person obtains some monetary advantage through his position or while in office. The naming of Jindal in the politically sensitive corruption case can hurt the prospects of the Congress, which is desperately trying to regroup and revive itself after defeats in the general election and subsequent state elections.

A senior Congress leader said the party was not aware of the details and, hence, would not respond to the development.

A special court had summoned former prime minister Manmohan Singh and billionaire Kumar Mangalam Birla on 10 March over accusations of criminal conspiracy and corruption in relation to the allotment of a coal mine in Odisha. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has used the coal auction numbers to criticize the former Congress party-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

Coal-field allocations have been controversial since the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) said in a report in August 2012 that the national exchequer had suffered a loss of 1.86 trillion because of a flawed allocation process. The CBI is probing the allotments. In September last year, the Supreme Court cancelled 204 coal mining permits awarded to firms, terming their allotment arbitrary and illegal after the CAG report.

“Searches were conducted on 11 June 2013 at 19 locations in Delhi and Hyderabad, in connection with the case. After a thorough investigation, CBI filed a chargesheet today," the CBI statement added.

JSPL said in an emailed statement, “We are shocked to know from the media about filing of a chargesheet by CBI with respect to the allocation of a coal block. The said allocation was made to the company on merits. During the course of the investigation, the company and its officials fully co-operated with the authorities, and whenever asked, explained and provided all the supporting documents."

“We deny all allegations made against our company and its management. We will be availing appropriate remedy in accordance with law. We have full faith in our judiciary and are confident to come out clean during the process," the firm added.

While H.C. Gupta, who resigned as a member of the Competition Commission of India (CCI), declined comment, Mint couldn’t contact the others mentioned in the chargesheet.

Mint reported on 12 September 2012 that between 1996 and 2009, JSPL and its unit Jindal Power Ltd were allotted nine fields in Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand, translating into reserves of 2.59 billion tonnes, or 5.97% of the 43.35 billion tonnes doled out by the centre.

The blocks allocated to JSPL on its own and as part of a partnership were Gare Palma IV/1 (1996), Gare Palma IV/2 (1998), Gare Palma IV/3 (1998), Gare Palma IV/6 (2006)—all in Chhattisgarh—Utkal B-I (2003), Ramchandi Promotional (2009), Urtan North (2009)—in Odisha—and Jitpur (2007) and Amarkonda Murgadangal (2008) in Jharkhand.

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Published: 29 Apr 2015, 05:27 PM IST
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