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Coal scam: Delhi HC orders renewal of ex-RS MP Vijay Darda’s passport for 3 years

PUNJAB NEWS LINE | May 04, 2024 01:33 PM

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has ruled in favour of a three-year renewal of the passport of former Rajya Sabha MP, Vijay Darda, who was convicted in the Chhattisgarh coal block allocation irregularities case.

Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma’s order was based on Darda's history of compliance with prior travel permissions, despite opposition from the CBI which cited government rules generally restricting such renewals to one year or the duration ordered by the court in cases involving pending criminal matters.

With the condition that he should not leave the country without court approval, the Delhi High Court had in September 2023, suspended the four-year sentence of Darda, who was handed a four-year jail term on July 26, 2023, with others in the case.

Moreover, Darda sought a ten-year renewal, citing his frequent international engagements.

Earlier, a special court had allowed his son, Devender, to travel to the UAE and Sweden last year.

The Delhi High Court had suspended the four-year sentence of Devender, his father and JLD Yavatmal Energy Pvt Ltd's Director Manoj Kumar Jayaswal.

Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma had granted Dardas and Jayaswal interim bail on July 28, 2023, till September 26, 2023, and had issued notice on the pleas moved by Dardas and Jayaswal against the trial court order convicting and sentencing them in the case.

On September 26 last year, Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma had allowed the pleas and suspended the sentence till the pendency of their appeals challenging their conviction and jail term in the case.

The court had also directed them not to leave the country without its prior permission. They were also ordered not to directly or indirectly make any inducement, threat or promise to witnesses in 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 had said.

The accused were held guilty under Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 420 (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code, and sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

On November 20, 2014, the court had rejected the closure report submitted by the CBI in this case and had directed the probe agency to initiate a fresh investigation, citing that the former MP had "misrepresented" facts in letters addressed to then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who also held the Coal portfolio.

According to the court, Vijay Darda, who is the Chairperson of the Lokmat Group, resorted to such misrepresentations in order to obtain the Fatehpur (East) coal block in Chhattisgarh for JLD Yavatmal Energy.

The court had ruled that the act of cheating was carried out by private entities as part of a conspiracy involving both private parties and public servants.

JLD Yavatmal Energy was granted the Fatehpur (East) coal block by the 35th Screening Committee.

Initially, the CBI alleged in its FIR that JLD Yavatmal had unlawfully concealed the previous allocation of four coal blocks to its group companies between 1999 and 2005.

However, the agency later filed a closure report, stating that no undue benefit had been granted to JLD Yavatmal by the Coal Ministry during the coal block allocation.

 

 
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