The special court also found three other accused guilty -- among them were former secretary of the coal ministry HC Gupta, former chief secretary of Jharkhand AK Basu and the private firm concerned -- Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd. The court will decide on the quantum of punishment tomorrow. Four persons were acquitted.
The Central Bureau of Investigation, which probed the matter, said Madhu Koda, AK Basu and two others conspired to favour the firm, which despite applying for allocation, had been given the thumbs down by the Jharkhand government and the Union ministry of steel. But HC Gupta, who was chairman of the screening committee, had concealed this fact from then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was handling the coal portfolio.
The coal scam had hit the headlines in 2012 after an audit by the national auditor revealed that the country has lost up to Rs 1.86 lakh crore due to inefficient allocation of coal blocks. The auditor said for over a decade, mining rights were allotted to private firms at low prices. In 2014, the Supreme Court cancelled the allocations.
HC Gupta, before retiring in 2008, was the Coal Secretary for two years under the Congress-led UPA government. With the screening committee he headed allocating at least 40 coal mining rights, he was accused of playing a leading role in the massive swindle.
He is accused in eight cases. In May, he was convicted along with two other former bureaucrats in a case related to the allocation of a coal mining block in Madhya Pradesh to a private company. It was the first coal scam case in which senior government officials were held guilty.
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