Jharkhand ex-CM Koda, former coal secy get 3-yr jail term

Ex-Jharkhand CM Koda, former Coal Secy get 3-yr jail term in coal scam case

NEW DELHI, DHNS: Former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda and ex-coal secretary H C Gupta were on Saturday sentenced to three years in jail in a coal scam case by a special court.

Observing that "white collar crimes" were more "dangerous" to the society than ordinary offences, the court also awarded similar three-year prison term to former Jharkhand chief secretary A K Basu, and Vijay Joshi, a close aide of the ex-chief minister.

All the convicts were held guilty for indulging in corrupt practices and hatching a criminal conspiracy in the allocation of Rajhara North coal block in Jharkhand to Kolkata-based company, Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd (VISUL).

Besides the jail term, Special CBI court judge Bharat Parashar imposed fines of Rs 50 lakh, Rs 25 lakh and Rs 1 lakh on VISUL, Koda and Gupta respectively in the case of coal scam during the UPA govenment.

Joshi will also have to pay a fine of Rs 25 lakh and Basu Rs 1 lakh.

In its order on quantum of sentence, the court said, "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 court declined to grant benefit of probation to the convicts.

The convicts were, however, granted statutory bail for a period of two months to enable them to file appeals in the Delhi High Court challenging the verdict.

Koda now stood disqualified from electoral politics in the light of a 2013 judgement of the Supreme Court. He said he would approach the HC, after consulting his lawyers.

So far, four out of 30 coal block allocation scam cases have been decided by the special court. A total of 12 people and four companies have been held guilty.

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