The Delhi High Court today sought the CBI's stand on a plea by a steel and power company's managing director challenging his conviction and three-year sentence in a coal block allocation scam case. Justice S Muralidhar issued notice to the investigating agency and sought its reply to the plea of Pawan Kumar Ahluwalia, the MD of Kamal Sponge Steel and Power Ltd (KSSPL), and listed the matter for further hearing on July 10. Ahluwalia has challenged the trial court's May 22 order awarding him three years jail term for misrepresenting facts in the coal block allocation application submitted before the Ministry of Coal, which was then headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The trial court had also slapped a fine of Rs 30 lakh on the appellant. Apart from Ahluwalia, former coal secretary H C Gupta, the then joint secretary K S Kropha and the then director K C Samaria in the ministry, were also convicted on the same date. The three bureaucrats were sentenced to two years jail term and a fine of Rs one lakh each was imposed on them by the trial court. The trio became the first public servants to be convicted and sentenced in the coal block allocation scam, unearthed during the previous UPA regime. The Madhya Pradesh based company, KSSPL, which was the beneficiary of the allocation of Thesgora-B/Rudrapuri coal block in the state, was saddled with a fine of Rs one crore. While holding them guilty of multiple offences, the court said Gupta, Kropha and Samaria had entered into a "criminal conspiracy" with KSSPL and Ahluwalia to commit "criminal misconduct " for procuring coal block allotment in favour of KSSPL. All the convicts were, however, granted bail on a personal bond of Rs one lakh and one surety of like amount soon after the sentence was announced, to enable them to move the High Court against the trial court's verdict. CBI had in October 2012 lodged an FIR in the matter, but on March 27, 2014, it had filed a closure report in the case.
The court had rejected the closure report on October 13, 2014 and summoned Gupta and others as accused. The CBI had alleged that the firm had misrepresented its net worth and the existing capacity, adding that the state government had also not recommended the firm for the allocation of any coal block. The court had on October 14 last year framed charges against the accused. As many as 10 more coal cases are pending against Gupta and the proceedings are going on individually. The Supreme Court had last year dismissed his plea seeking a joint trial in all these cases.