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Court grants bail to Jindal, Koda Rao in coal block allocation case

A Delhi court today granted bail to industrialist Naveen Jindal, former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda and eight others in a case relating to the allocation of coal blocks.

Among others who got bail are former union minister of state for coal Dasari Narayan Rao and former coal secretary HC Gupta.

As all the 10 individual accused appeared in the court in pursuance of summons issued against them on May 6, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Special Judge Bharat Parashar granted bail to them and asked them to each furnish a personal bond of Rs.1 lakh each and surety of the like amount.

They were also directed not to leave the country without prior permission.

The court also directed them not to tamper with the documents and prosecution evidence or approach the prosecution witnesses in any manner and posted the matter for June 1.

“Undoubtedly the allegations against the accused persons are serious in nature and more so when they occupy high position in the society. However at the same time it is also true that during the course of investigation, none of the accused were arrested by the CBI and there has been no allegation that they did not join the investigation as and when called for,” the court said while releasing them on bail.

The CBI on April 29 filed a chargesheet against Jindal, Koda, Rao, Gupta and six others - Gyan Swaroop Garg, Suresh Singhal, Rajeev Jain, Girish Kumar Juneja, RK Saraf and K Ramakrishna.

Five private companies - four based in Delhi and one in Hyderabad - have also been named in the charge sheet.

The companies are Jindal Steel and Power Ltd, Gagan Sponge Iron Pvt Ltd, Jindal Reality Pvt Ltd, New Delhi Exim Pvt Ltd and Sowbhagya Media Ltd.

The CBI has formally charged them with criminal conspiracy, cheating and various provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The case relates to the allocation of Jharkhand’s Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block to Jindal Steel and Gagan Sponge.

The agency said the Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block allocation was recommended by the 35th screening committee.

“It was alleged that two steel and iron companies based in Delhi misrepresented facts to get coal blocks. Also, there was alleged investment in a Hyderabad-based firm from the group of companies based at Delhi,” said a CBI official.

Rao was the union minister of state for coal between 2006 and 2009 when the irregularities allegedly took place.

According to the official, searches were conducted on June 11, 2013 at 19 locations in Delhi and Hyderabad in connection with the case.

While granting bail, the court noted that the common thread which runs through the arguments of all the accused is that they joined investigation as and when called by the CBI and they put in their appearance on the very first date of hearing when the court chose to issue summons instead of issuing warrants.

The court observed that the present case is primarily based on documentary evidence and which are voluminous in nature and the trial will thus certainly take a long time to conclude.

However, CBI counsel VK Sharma, strongly opposed the bail plea stating that the accused persons in the present case are high profile industrialists and politicians and the prosecution witnesses are by and large employees of various industries of the accused and there are chances that the witnesses or the prosecution evidence may be tempered with if they are released on bail.

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