New Delhi, Oct 26 (PTI) A Delhi court Monday awarded 3-year jail term to former Union minister Dilip Ray in a coal scam case pertaining to irregularities in the allocation of a Jharkhand block in 1999, saying white collar crimes are 'more dangerous' than ordinary ones because of the 'damages inflicted on public morale'.
Besides Ray, the 68-year old former minister of state (coal) in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, Special Judge Bharat Parashar also awarded 3-year jail term each to two senior officials of the ministry at that time -- Pradip Kumar Banerjee and Nitya Nand Gautam, both about 80-year-old.
The court also awarded 3-year jail term to Castron Technologies Ltd (CTL) director Mahendra Kumar Agarwalla (75).
The court, however, granted bail to the convict persons to enable them to approach the high court against the verdict.
It also imposed a fine of Rs 10 lakh on Ray, Rs 2 lakh on Banerjee and Gautam, while Agarwalla was asked to pay a fine of Rs 60 lakh.
It imposed Rs 60 lakh on CTL and Rs 10 lakh on Castron Mining Ltd (CML), also held guilty in the case.
In response to the convicts' argument that no loss was caused to anyone in the matter “since almost the entire amount of extracted coal was surrendered to the government, the court said, non-availability of sufficient raw material such as coal has in fact resulted in the lack of infrastructural/ industrial development of the country.
“Had coal block been allocated to a deserving applicant company after following the due process of law and the company would have proceeded to extract coal so as to use it captively in its end use project then it would have certainly added to the infrastructural/ industrial development of the country.
“...arbitrary allocation of coal blocks as has been seen in the present matter to unscrupulous persons who never intended to establish any end use project in itself has caused huge loss to the nation which is difficult to be computable in monetary terms,” the court said.
The court said the case involved commission of white collar crimes and that too by people occupying high places in the society. “Such '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...
“In fact white collar crimes are a peculiar feature of an acquisitive and affluent society and even though our society can not be strictly termed as an affluent society but it is certainly becoming acquisitive,” the judge said.
While refusing to release the convicts on probation, the judge said, “keeping in view the peculiar nature of facts and circumstances of the present case coupled with the gravity of offence, though none of the convict persons deserve to be extended the benefit of probation but even otherwise as the offence under section 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant, or by banker, merchant or agent) of IPC is punishable with imprisonment up to life, so the provisions of Probation of Offenders Act do not apply.” The convicts had urged the court to take a lenient view considering their old age and that they were never convicted earlier.
The CBI, represented by public prosecutors V K Sharma and A P Singh, however, had sought maximum punishment for the convicts.
The court had convicted all the five accused persons for various offences including criminal conspiracy (120-B of IPC), criminal breach of trust by public servant (409 of IPC), cheating (420 of IPC) and corruption (PC Act).
It had convicted sixth accused - CML - for theft (379 of IPC).
Regarding Ray, the judge had said that he “dishonestly facilitated allocation of the abandoned non-nationalised coal mining area in favour of CTL and that too in violation of the direction of law.” “He thus dishonestly allowed misappropriation of the said coal mining area by company CTL,” he said.
The case pertains to allocation of Brahmadiha coal block in Giridih in Jharkhand to CTL in 1999. PTI UK SA