New Delhi: Ex-coal secretary HC Gupta who has been accused in eight coal scam cases moved to court on Tuesday seeking cancellation of his bail as he said couldn’t bear the financial burden of litigation. During the proceedings, an emotional Gupta moved an application to withdraw his personal bond submitted for his release on bail.
The senior bureaucrat also told the court that he couldn't bear the financial burden of litigation and sought to withdraw the authorisation letter issued in favour of his lawyers. He also did not wish to examine any witness in his defence, he said.
In a fresh twist to the case, accused number 4. Gupta stated that he did not wish to examine any witness in his defence and intended to fight the case from jail since he is going through financial difficulties.
At Patiala House Court, where the trial is taking place, Gupta told Bharat Parashar, Special Judge – Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) that he wanted to withdraw the personal bond he had earlier submitted for his release. Gupta told the judge that he also wanted to withdraw his authorization letter given in favour of his defence counsels – BS Mathur.
Gupta who is currently involved in nine cases, moved his application when the court was hearing the defence witness during in the case pertaining to the alleged irregularities in the allocation of the Thesgora-B Rudrapuri coal block in Madhya Pradesh to Kamal Sponge Steel and Power Ltd (KSSPL).
When the court extensively inquired about the reasons for moving of the said application, Gupta stated that he was facing several financial difficulties and could not even afford a lawyer. In this regard, the court offered to appoint an Amicus Curiae to help Gupta or help engage services of a lawyer from the Delhi Legal Aid Services Authority (DLSA). Gupta however refused the offers extended by the court.
Responding to this unusual situation, special judge Parashar vacated the courtroom and in the presence of the court staff, spoke to Gupta’s wife and son, who were present in court. The judge explained Gupta’s decision to them and later invited Gupta to participate in the discussion.
The court has given Gupta time to reconsider his decision and will decide on this matter at a later date. Gupta has been charged under sections 120-B r/w Section 409/420 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 13(1)(c)/13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. In October 2014, the court had summoned Gupta as an accused dismissing the closure report filed by CBI.
During the arguments for framing of charges, Gupta had stated that the “final approval” on the allocation of the coal block to KSSPL was taken by former Prime Minister and then Coal Minister Manmohan Singh. However, the CBI had refuted his claim stating that Singh was “kept in the dark,” and the then Coal Secretary had misled the senior officials in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
In March 2014, a draft report released by the Comptroller Audit General (CAG) stated that the government exchequer lost Rs 1.86 crore because it chose to allot the coal blocks to private entities and Public Sector Units (PSU) instead of auctioning it during the years 2004-2009. However in 2012, following a complaint lodged by Bharatiya Janata Part (BJP) – the opposition party at the time, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) initiated an inquiry to probe allegations of corruption. Consequently, an First Information Report (FIR) report was filed by the probe agency that accused almost a dozen firms overstating their net worth, failing to disclose prior coal allocations, and hoarding rather than developing coal allocations.