Court frames charges against Ray; ex-minister cries vendetta

A Delhi court on Wednesday framed charges against former Union Minister Dilip Ray and others in a case of allocation of a coal block in Jharkhand in 1999.

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Special Judge Bharat Parashar framed the charges against Ray -- Minister of State for Coal in the then NDA government in 1999 -- along with Coal Ministry Additional Secretary Pradip Kumar Banerjee, then Adviser (Projects) Nitya Nand Gautam, company Castron Technologies Ltd. and its Director Mahendra Kumar Agarwalla and firm Castron Mining.

The charges pertain to cheating, criminal conspiracy and criminal breach of trust.

After the accused pleaded not guilty and claimed trial, the court listed the matter for July 11.

The case pertains to alleged irregularities in allocation of Brahmadiha coal block in Giridih in Jharkhand to Castron Technologies Ltd in 1999.

Reacting to the development, Dilip Ray claimed in Odisha capital Bhubaneswar that he is a victim of "political vendetta" unleashed by the then United Progressive Alliance government.

Ray, said he, however, has complete faith in the judicial system and claimed innocence in the coal scam.

"The scam-ridden UPA government, out of sheer political vendetta, pressurised the Central Bureau of Investigation to dig out something to malign me and its predecessor NDA government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee and an FIR was registered in September 2012," said Ray, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA in Odisha.

"While I was the Minister, BJP MP P.K. Agarwal brought the coal block allocation proposal. I sent it to the Ministry to re-examine it. The CBI erroneously alleged that in view of my endorsement of his representation for re-examination, Castron owned by Agarwal was allotted a coal block," Ray said in a statement.

He said a screening committee recommends coal block allocation and he wasn't its member then.

Ray said the coal block's allocation was recommended by the then Jharkhand government in favour of Castron, as it was an abandoned coal block from which coal was regularly plundered by the mafia.