Coal scam case: Delhi HC grants interim bail to director of Gondwana Ispat

New Delhi, Jun 1 (PTI): The Delhi High Court today granted interim bail to a director of Gondwana Ispat Ltd, who was convicted and sentenced to four years in jail in a case relating to allocation of a coal block in Maharashtra. Justice S P Garg granted the interim relief to Ashok Daga till July 23, while directing him to deposit a Rs 1-crore fine amount imposed on him by the trial court.
The interim bail was granted to the convict in the coal scam case after senior counsel Mohit Mathur submitted that Daga’s daughter was in a family way and as the delivery could happen any time now, he wished to be with her.
Senior Advocate R S Cheema, appearing for the Central Bureau of Investigation, said he has no objection to Daga being granted the interim relief till the next date of hearing if the convict deposits the fine amount.
Justice Garg directed Daga to deposit the fine amount within three weeks and also asked him to furnish a personal bond of Rs 50,000 and a surety of the like amount.
It listed the matter for July 23 when the court will hear his pending regular bail plea.
The court had earlier sought the response of the CBI on the appeal by Daga challenging his conviction and sentence in the case. He has also sought suspension of his jail term till the pendency of his appeal.
A trial court had on May 1 awarded the four-year jail term to Daga while imposing the fine of Rs 1 crore on him and Rs 60 lakh on the firm.
The convict has been in custody since April 27 after the court had held that he and the company were guilty of cheating and criminal conspiracy in getting the Majra coal block in Maharashtra allocated to the firm.
The director and the company were convicted under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 420 (cheating) of the IPC and also for the substantive offence under section 420 of the IPC.
Gondwana Ispat Ltd (GIL) was allocated the Majra coal block in 2003 and an FIR was lodged against it in 2014.
The CBI had said in its charge sheet that it had found during the probe that Daga had made “unsubstantiated claim even towards the financial preparedness and the tie-up regarding iron ore with the Odisha government”.
According to the CBI, on April 22, 2000, Daga had applied to the Ministry of Coal (MoC) for allotment of the Ekarjuna Extension coal block in Maharashtra to set up a washery-cum-sponge iron plant of 60,000 tonne per year capacity in Warora area. This application was rejected.
On September 25, 2001, Daga applied for allotment of Warora West coal block in Maharashtra to set up 1.2 lakh tonne per annum washery-cum-sponge iron plant. The CBI had said that in continuation of its earlier application, GIL requested the MoC to consider the allotment of Majra-Belgaon coal blocks, having extractable reserve of 8 to 10 million tonnes as an alternate to the Warora North coal block.
The MoC, in its 18th Screening Committee meeting held on May 5, 2003, considered the application of GIL and Chandrapur Ispat Ltd for allocation of Majra-Belgaon coal block.
The agency had said that based on the documents and representation submitted by the company, the ministry on October 29, 2003, reserved Majra coal block for GIL subject to certain conditions.
The CBI had said that after the allocation of the coal block in 2003, Daga had given an undertaking to the MoC that he will install a plant or carry out its extension and develop the coal mine, but he sold off the company to Nand Kishore Sarda while earning a huge profit in October 2005.