Delhi: Court takes cognisance of charges on Bhandak coal block allocation

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A Delhi court has taken cognisance of offences in connection with the allotment of Bhandak (West) Coal Block, noting that the accused were only interested in allocation and not the development of the coal block.

The CBI had registered the case under sections 120-(B) of the IPC and relevant sections under Prevention of Corruption Act against a company, M/s Shree Baidyanath Ayurved Bhawan Pvt Ltd. (SBABPL) and Directors/Promoters of the company.

The company had in 1999 submitted an application to the Ministry of Coal (MOC) for allocation of a captive coal block to run their paper mills located in Nagpur, Maharashtra. They requested the allocation of Bhandak (West) Coal Block.

It is alleged that accused Suresh Kumar Sharma, joint managing director, and the accused company SBABPL engaged in criminal conspiracy with each other and willfully, dishonestly and fraudulently misrepresented information about the paper mill. The accused company did not have any paper mill in its name. Further the accused company inflated power requirements for the paper mill, CBI told the court.

The court has taken cognisance of offences under section 120-(B) and 420 (Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) of the IPC. It has summoned the company and Sharma after taking cognisance of the offences.

Special Judge Sanjay Bansal said that “enough material has been collected by the investigation agency showing that company SBABPL had applied for allocation of the coal block. The application was signed by accused Sharma, who had also signed various other correspondences.”

“The company has been changing its proposals from time to time. The ultimate intention of the company apparently was to get allocation of the coal block somehow or the other. The conduct of the company post allocation also shows that it was only interested in allocation of the coal block. The company did not develop the coal block and allocation was ultimately withdrawn,” the court said.

It noted that a project file was prepared in the name of the company “at a time at which the said company was not even incorporated. Misrepresentations were made to get the allocation.”

Responsibility regarding the role of officials of MOC in the allocation could not be fixed as “many of the relevant documents are missing and could not be located,” the court noted.

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