Former union minister Dilip Ray, others convicted in Jharkhand coal block scam case

Dilip Ray

Dilip Ray

Former Union Minister Dilip Ray was convicted by a special CBI court in New Delhi in connection with the two-decade-old coal block allocation scam on Tuesday.

Mr. Ray, then Union Minister of State for Coal, along with Pradip Kumar Banerjee, the then Additional Secretary, Ministry of Coal, and Nityanand Gautam, the then adviser (projects) Ministry of Coal, were convicted by the court in the case pertaining to allocation of 105.153 hectares of abandoned coal mining area in Giridih district of Jharkhand. The coal block was allotted to Castron Technologies Limited (CTL) in 1999.

Pronouncing the judgment through video conferencing, Special Judge (CBI), New Delhi, Bharat Parashar held Mr. Ray guilty of offences under Sections 120-B and 120-B/409/420 of IPC and Sections 13 (1) (c) and 13 (1) (d) of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The two former Coal Ministry officials were also found guilty under similar sections.

The CTL, its mining arm based in Kolkata and promoter Mahendra Kumar Agarwalla were also convicted.

Initially, the Central Vigilance Commission had examined allegations of wrongdoing and corruption in coal block allocation. The case was subsequently referred to the CBI. The Central agency, upon finding sufficient incriminating material relating to coal block allocation, registered regular cases.

It was submitted that Mr. Ray had himself approved the guidelines of Ministry of Coal stating that no coal block shall be allocated for captive mining to a company engaged in production of iron and steel or sponge iron if the annual production capacity is less than 1 MTPA in opencast mining but, in the case of CTL, he agreed to relax the guidelines so as to extend undue benefits to the private parties involved.

Holding them guilty, Justice Parashar said, “It has been now concluded beyond shadows of all reasonable doubts that all the accused persons had conspired together so as to procure allocation of a captive coal block – Brahmadiha coal block – in favour of CTL.”

The judge said in the order that the criminal conspiracy was undertaken by various acts of cheating by CTL and M. K. Agarwalla and by various acts constituting the offence of criminal misconduct, as defined under P.C. Act, 1988, by Mr. Ray, Mr. Banerjee and Mr. Gautam and also the offence of criminal breach of trust by Mr. Ray as public servant .

Mr. Ray, also a prominent hotelier, is a founding member of the Biju Janata Dal. He was a minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government. After he left the regional party in 2002, he had joined the Congress. He remained in the Congress from 2004 to 2008.

In 2002, Mr. Ray was, however, elected to Rajya Sabha as an Independent member with the help of BJP MLAs.

He joined the BJP in 2009 and was elected as an MLA from Rourkela constituency in 2014. After the CBI named him in the charge sheet in 2016, the politician left the BJP in 2018 . Political circles were abuzz with speculation that he would return to the BJD ahead of the 2019 election. He had even met Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik , but did not join.

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Printable version | May 25, 2022 5:00:58 pm |