Coal Scam: Jindal Denies Pressuring Koda With Cong Support

New Delhi
Coal Scam: Jindal Denies Pressuring Koda With Cong Support

Former MP Naveen Jindal today refuted CBI allegation in a special court that he had pressurised then Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda to recommend his firms for coal block, with a promise to garner support of the Congress Party for his unstable government.

Senior advocate S V Raju, appearing for Jindal, said his client had nothing to do with the Congress party's outside support to Koda's government from 2006 to 2008 and it was senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel who was concerned with it.

"I (Jindal) was only an MP of the Congress party and had nothing to do with Congress party's support to Madhu Koda's government in Jharkhand....There are statements of CBI witness who says that Koda had met Ahmed Patel in Delhi," Raju told Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar during arguments on framing of charges.

"It was Ahmed Patel who was concerned with the Congress party's support to Madhu Koda's government. As far as support to Koda's government is concerned, I (Jindal) had no role in that," he said.

"As far as the alleged political compulsion of Koda is concerned, I had nothing to do with it. It was Ahmed Patel who was the concerned man," he argued, adding, "CBI's allegation that I was pressurising Koda, is vague."

This assumes significance as CBI had claimed in its charge sheet that Jindal, who was then a Congress MP, had conspired with Koda and promised to help him in completing his term as Chief Minister in return for allocation of coal block in Jharkhand to his firms.

Koda, who was an Independent MLA, was Chief Minister of Jharkhand from September 14, 2006 to August 23, 2008 with the support of Congress, RJD and others.

During the arguments, Raju said there was no evidence to show that Jindal had misrepresented facts to anyone and "vital links are missing in CBI's case and there is no common link which even prima facie show any conspiracy."

Jindal, Koda, former Minister of State for Coal Dasari Narayan Rao, ex-Coal Secretary H C Gupta and 11 others were chargesheeted by CBI in the coal scam case relating to alleged irregularities in allocation of Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block in Jharkhand to Jindal Group firms -- Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) and Gagan Sponge Iron Private Ltd (GSIPL).

CBI had yesterday told the court that Jindal, Rao, Koda and Gupta had conspired with others to get the coal block allocated in favour of the two Jindal group firms.

Referring to CBI charges that JSPL and GSIPL had cheated the government, Jindal's counsel told the court that his client cannot be held liable for it.

"CBI is saying that JSPL and GSIPL cheated the government and being the promoter, Naveen Jindal is also liable. It means they are saying he is vicariously liable. In absence of any statutory provision under the law, a person cannot be held vicariously liable," he said.

"There is no evidence that Naveen Jindal misrepresented anything before anyone. Where is the evidence to show that my client was aware of the facts mentioned in application form as well as the feed back forms filed by these firms? There is no evidence that he was aware of it," he argued.

On the CBI's allegations that there was a conspiracy among the accused persons, the lawyer said, "CBI must show what was the common purpose of the alleged conspiracy. Our submission is that there was no conspiracy."

On the agency's claim that Jindal had met Koda in Ranchi and Delhi, his counsel said, "Other than my client, Ahmed Patel met Koda, Shibu Soren also met Koda. A large number of politicians and businessmen were meeting Koda."

Regarding CBI's allegations that Koda had inserted name of GSIPL in the recommendation which was sent to the Ministry of Coal by the state government, Jindal's lawyer said there was a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Jharkhand government and JSPL.

"The MoU said that state of Jharkhand will recommend JSPL to the Government of India. If state government would not have recommended JSPL or GSIPL, it would have been a breach of MoU. The state government was bound to make a recommendation," he said during the arguments which would continue tomorrow.

The lawyer further said, "It cannot be said to be illegal act as Jharkhand government was abiding by the terms of the agreement. The Chief Minister, that is Koda, by recommending the names of JSPL and GSIPL, did not commit any illegal act."

CBI had yesterday told the court that entire system in Jharkhand government was "manipulated" to favour Jindal group companies so that the Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block could be allocated to them.

Other individual accused are -- Rajeev Jain, Director of Jindal Realty Pvt Ltd, Girish Kumar Suneja and Radha Krishna Saraf, Directors of GSIPL, Suresh Singhal, Director of New Delhi Exim Pvt Ltd, K Ramakrishna Prasad, Managing Director of Sowbhagya Media Ltd and chartered accountant Gyan Swaroop Garg. These accused are presently out on bail.

Besides the ten accused, five firms -- JSPL, Jindal Realty Pvt Ltd, Gagan Infraenergy Ltd (formerly known as GSIPL), Sowbhagya Media Ltd and New Delhi Exim Pvt Ltd -- are also accused in the case.

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