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Coal scam: I cannot be prosecuted on ‘hearsay’,says Madhu Koda

Madhu Koda

New Delhi:  Former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda today argued before a special court that evidence produced by CBI against him in a coal blocks allocation case was “hearsay” and cannot be relied upon to prosecute him.

Seeking discharge in the case in which he along with eight others including a Kolkata-based private company are facing prosecution, Koda said that the 36th screening committee had decided to allocate Rajhara North coal block in Jharkhand to accused firm Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd (VISUL) and he had nothing to do with it.

“One of the prosecution witness said that the then Chief Secretary of Jharkhand A K Basu (co-accused) stated in meeting of screening committee that on the asking of chief minister (Koda) he was insisting for VISUL.

“The statement is not admissible as evidence being hearsay evidence and it cannot be relied upon,” Koda’s counsel told Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar during arguments on framing of charges in the case.

The counsel argued that evidence brought by CBI was insufficient even for framing charges against Koda.

“The witness said in his statement that chief secretary who was the representative of the state government recomended VISUL. Screening committee took the decision for allocation of the coal block. Where do I come in? I have nothing to say. There is no allegation against me,” he said.

During the day, the court also heard arguments on behalf of accused public servant Basant Kumar Bhattacharya, who was then section officer in the Department of Mines of Jharkhand.

Bhattacharya’s counsel argued that the evidence on record was not enough to raise grave suspicion warranting framing of charges against him. He also claimed that proper sanction was not taken to prosecute his client.

The court after hearing arguments on behalf of Koda and Bhattacharya fixed the case for tomorrow for hearing arguments of remaining accused.

The case pertains to alleged irregularities in allocation of Rajhara North coal block in Jharkhand to accused VISUL.

Apart from VISUL, Koda and Bhattacharya, ex-Jharkhand chief secretary Ashok Kumar Basu, former Coal Secretary H C Gupta, public servant Bipin Bihari Singh, Kolkata-based VISUL’s Director Vaibhav Tulsyan, chartered accountant Navin Kumar Tulsyan and Koda’s alleged close aide Vijay Joshi are accused in the case.

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