Coal scam whistleblower lands in legal trouble

Coal scam whistleblower lands in legal trouble

Union minister Hansraj G Ahir’s alleged attempt to help a Maharastra-based applicant, who got an LPG cylinder distributorship through a court’s intervention after being initially rejected by an oil PSU, has landed the coal scam whistleblower in a legal trouble.

A petition has been filed in Punjab and Haryana High Court accusing Ahir of exerting “political pressure” on Minister of State for Petroleum Dharmendra Pradhan “to refrain the HPCL (Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd) from initiating legal proceedings thereby extending illegal benefit” to Geeta Kapgate.

The petition also charged that Pradhan “succumbed to pressure exerted” by Ahir “so as to keep interest of one person” above “the interest of public at large”.

As per the official website of High Court of Punjab and Haryana, which sits in Chandigarh, the petition filed by Neetu Rani against Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited came up for hearing before Judge Augustine George Masih in April 2015, and was still to be disposed of.

Ministers Pradhan and Ahir figure among the five respondents in the writ petition filed before the single bench of the high court.

Minister of state for Chemical and Fertilizer Ahir wrote a letter to Dharmendra Pradhan on December 31, 2014, after receiving a memorandum from Geeta Kapgate, a resident of Pragati Colony of Sakoli area in Bhandara district, Maharastra.

In the letter attached in the petition, Ahir requested Pradhan to “look into the matter and take action” in Kapgate’s matter.

 “Her candidature was rejected and she appealed for justice and won the same. Now the company is planning to go in appeal in (a) senior court and she has urged to give directives to the company officers not to go in appeal,” wrote Ahir on his official letterhead.

Minister Ahir refused to comment on the serious allegations made in the petition.
“It is a court matter. I would not like to comment,” reacted Chandrapur MP Ahir who shot into fame by digging out coal scam during the UPA II regime. The arbitrary coal blocks allocations were subsequently cancelled by the Supreme Court and a CBI inquiry against former UPA ministers and bureaucrats are still going on.

The chemical and fertilizer minister concluded his one-page letter to Pradhan, seeking “proper action after due verification of the matter and as per the guidelines of the company”.

The petition questioned the petroleum ministry’s decision relaxing the condition of 15 years land lease period through a letter on January 21, 2015, which was the last date of submission of application.

The petroleum ministry has filed an affidavit in the court more than a month back, rejecting the charges levelled by Rani.
 

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