Coal secretary hid facts from Manmohan, CBI tells court

New Delhi: The then coal secretary, H.C. Gupta, concealed material facts related to allocation of a coal block in Jharkhand's Rajhara town from the then prime minister Manmohan Singh, who also held the coal portfolio, the CBI told a court New Delhi on Friday.

Advancing arguements on the issue of framing of charges, Senior Public Prosecutor V.K. Sharma told Special Judge Bharat Parashar that Gupta concealed facts related to Jharkhand's Rajhara North coal block allocation, involving Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd. (VISUL), Manmohan Singh.

The Central Bureau of Investigation has alleged that Gupta, along with former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda and others, conspired to favour VISUL in the allocation of the coal block.

Sharma told the court that the state government had recommended two other companies for Rajhara North coal mines but not VISUL.

This fact was not highlighted in the file noting sent by Gupta to Manmohan Singh, he added.

Even the steel ministry had not recommended the name of VISUL for the coal block, the senior public prosecutor apprised the court.

Initially, the state government had not recommended VISUL, but later former Jharkhand coal secretary A.K. Basu insisted on the firm's name at a meeting of the screening committee.

In his defence, Gupta maintained before the court that VISUL was eligible for allocation of the coal block. On Wednesday, Gupta said that the final decision on the block allocation was taken by the then coal minister Manmohan Singh.

The court posted the matter for June 30 for clarifications.

Others accused in the case include VISUL director Vaibhav Tulsyan, chartered accountant Navin Kumar Tulsyan, government officials Basant Kumar Bhatacharya and Bipin Bihari Singh, and alleged middleman Vijay Joshi.

They have been charge-sheeted for cheating and criminal conspiracy under Prevention of Corruption Act.

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