Former coal secretary Harish Chandra Gupta, an accused in a coal block allocation case involving Kolkata-based Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd. (VISUL), told a court here on Wednesday that the final decision on making the allocation in Jharkhand’s Rajhara North mine taken by the then prime minister, Manmohan Singh.
While advancing his arguments, Gupta’s counsel told Special Judge Bharat Parashar that Manmohan Singh had the “final authority” to take decisions.
“The ultimate power to allocate coal block was with the then prime minister of India, who was also the coal minister at that time,” Gupta’s counsel said.
“Being the chairman of the screening committee, I (Gupta) was required to forward the recommendations to the coal minister, who was the then prime minister,” he said.
He added that screening committee was only a recommending body.
The then prime minister Manmohan Singh was holding the coal portfolio when the alleged incident took place.
The arguments will continue on Friday.
The case involves allocation of coal blocks to Kolkata-based company VISUL in Jharkhand’s Rajhara town in which its directors and unknown public servants of the coal ministry, the Jharkhand government and others were named as accused in the first information report lodged in September 2012.
Fomer Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda, the company VISUL and its director Vaibhav Tulsyan along with chartered accountant Navin Kumar Tulsyan, two government officials – Basant Kumar Bhattacharya and Bipin Bihari Singh, and the alleged middleman Vijay Joshi are accused in the case.
They were chargesheeted on various charges like cheating and criminal conspiracy under the Prevention of Corruption Act.