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Odishatv Bureau

Delhi: A Special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Court in New Delhi on Monday sentenced ex-BJD MP and former Union Minister Dilip Ray to three years imprisonment in a coal scam case pertaining to irregularities in the allocation of a Jharkhand coal block in 1999. Two other officials convicted in the case have also been awarded 3-year jail term each, reports said. The court also imposed a fine of Rs 10 lakh on each on them.

Ray, a hotelier now, was the Minister of State (MoS) for Coal in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA when his party Biju Janata Dal (BJD), led by Naveen Patnaik, was a partner in the alliance government in 1999.

Along with Ray, the Special CBI Court on October 6 had convicted two former senior officials of the Ministry of Coal — Pradip Kumar Banerjee, the then Additional Secretary and Nitya Nand Gautam, former advisor (Projects), Castron Technologies Limited, its director Mahendra Kumar Agarwalla and Castron Mining Limited in the case for charges dealing with criminal conspiracy and other offences. The case pertains to allocation of Brahmadiha coal block in Giridih in Jharkhand to CTL in 1999.

The court has held them guilty of the offences under 120-B (criminal conspiracy) 409 (criminal breach of trust) and 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code and various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Besides this, Castron Technologies Limited, Mahesh Kumar Agarwalla and Castron Mining Limited were also held guilty for the offence under 379 (punishment for theft) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code. The court further imposed Rs 60 lakh on CLT and Rs 10 lakh on Castron Mining Ltd (CML), also held guilty in the case, reported PTI.

Many political leaders across the parties made statements on the development. Senior BJP leader Bijay Mohapatra said, "I am surprised by the verdict. The case against Ray was not that serious to attract such a punishment."

Union Minister Pratap sarangi said, "If Ray feels that he is not guilty, there are provisions to appeal in a higher court."

Accusing the BJD government of being complicit in the same case, Congress' George Tirkey said, "The case against Ray might be true, but Naveen Patnaik was the coal minister too. We cannot rule out his involvement in the scam too."

Sarada Prasad Nayak, BJD MLA said, "The law treats everybody at par. Only time will tell, the future course of action."

It is to be noted that the CBI had urged the Delhi court to award life imprisonment to Dilip Ray and other convicts in the coal block allocation case.

(With Agency Inputs)

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