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Coal scam court begins, comes down hard: Jails 2 directors for 4 years

In the first sentencing in a coal block allocation case, a special court in Delhi today sent to jail, for four years, two directors of Jharkhand Ispat Pvt. Ltd. whom it had convicted of criminal conspiracy and cheating in bagging a coal block, saying “white collar criminals” are “more dangerous” to society”.

Special Central Bureau of Investigation Judge Bharat Parashar awarded four years’ jail terms to JIPL directors RS Rungta, 79, and RC Rungta, 60, and slapped a Rs 5 lakh fine each on them.

The court also imposed a fine of Rs 25 lakh on Jharkhand Ispat Pvt. Ltd. (JIPL).

Defining “white collar criminals” as “a person of the upper socio-economic class who violates the criminal law in the course of his occupational or professional activities” and including businessmen, industrialists, entrepreneurs, traders, politicians, bureaucrats or well-qualified professionals, the court said: “Such white collar crimes are in fact more dangerous to the society than ordinary crimes, firstly, because the financial losses are much higher, and, secondly because of the damages inflicted on public morale.”

“Of late the anti social activities of persons of the upper socio-economic strata of the society in their occupation and which have came to be known as ‘white collar crimes’ have attracted attention.

“The average loss from ordinary crimes such as burglaries, robberies and larcenies etc. may run into few thousand rupees only but the loss which the white collar crimes may cause run not only in lakhs but in crores of rupees,” it said.

It added that to find criminality committed by “white collar criminals” is often a difficult task because they are committed after much deliberations and planning undertaken by well trained minds having a higher status in the society.

The court observed that crime committed by “white collar criminals” is due to their greed or lust to acquire maximum material resources in the name of their business, taking benefit of open competition, economy and individual freedom.

“However the inevitable result of all the aforesaid acts is the large scale exploitation of the public by the businessmen and professionals in the course of their occupational activities.”

Noting coal is an important element for the infrastructural and industrial development of a developing country like India, it said such kind of unscrupulous businessmen and industrialists were the reason that “despite 69 years of independence, our country is still lagging behind than most of the countries in the world in industrial/infrastructural development”.

The court last week convicted JIPL and its directors RS Rungta and RC Rungta for the offence of cheating and criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code, observing that they had “fraudulently” and with a “dishonest intention” deceived the government in allocating the North Dhadu coal block in Jharkhand to the firm.

The Rungtas, who are already in judicial custody, were present in the courtroom when the sentence was pronounced.

Besides this case, 19 other cases investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) are pending before the court, set up to exclusively deal with all the coal scam matters.

Two other cases probed by the Enforcement Directorate are also pending before the court.

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