Coal scam: HC suspends 4-yr sentence of ex-MP Darda and his son pending appeals

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday suspended the four-year sentence of former Rajya Sabha MP Vijay Darda, his son Devender and businessman Manoj Kumar Jayaswal in a case related to irregularities in coal block allocation in Chhattisgarh.

Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma allowed the pleas and suspended the sentence till the pendency of their appeals challenging their conviction and jail term in the case.

The high court directed them not to leave the country without prior permission of the court concerned and not to directly or indirectly make any inducement, threat or promise to any person acquainted with the facts of the case.

“It is directed that the sentence imposed on the appellant shall remain suspended during the pendency of the present appeal, subject to his furnishing a personal bond in the sum of Rs 1 lakh with two sureties of the like amount ,” the high court said.

The high court, on July 28, had issued a notice to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) seeking its response to the appeals filed by the three persons challenging their conviction and sentence and had granted them interim bail till September 26 in the case.

The Dardas and Jayaswal were taken into custody on July 26, immediately after the trial court passed the sentencing order and were released on interim bail two days later.

Advocate Vijay Aggarwal, representing the convicts, submitted that they were never arrested and were on bail during the trial and have never misused the liberty of bail.

He apprised the high court that the fine imposed by the trial court had already been deposited by the three convicts and urged the court to suspend the sentence imposed on them during the pendency of the appeals.

Advocate Tarannum Cheema, representing the CBI, opposed the pleas for suspension of sentence.

The counsel submitted that the trial court’s judgment dealt with all the issues raised in the appeals and in all probability, the appeals are likely to be dismissed by the high court and therefore, the jail term of the appellants should not be suspended.

The high court listed the appeals for consideration on February 14, 2024.

The trial court had also convicted and awarded three-year jail terms to ex-coal secretary H C Gupta and two former senior public servants K S Kropha and K C Samria in the case.

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They were, however, granted bail by the trial court to enable them to challenge their conviction and punishment before the high court. Their appeals are also pending in the high court.

In its verdict, the trial court had said, “The present case relates to allocation of a coal block. The convicts had obtained the said block by committing cheating with the government of India. Prosecution is justified in saying that the loss to the nation was huge.”

In the 13th conviction in the coal scam, which rocked the erstwhile Manmohan Singh government, the trial court had on July 13 held the seven accused guilty under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and relevant provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

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