No evidence against me in coal block allocation: Koda

New Delhi : Former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda on Tuesday told a special court hearing the coal block allocation case that evidence produced by the CBI against him was “hearsay” and cannot be relied upon to prosecute him.

While advancing arguments on framing of charges in the case, Koda’s counsel told Special Judge Bharat Parashar that one of the prosecution witnesses said Jharkhand’s then chief secretary A.K. Basu stated in a meeting of the screening committee that he was insisting on allocation for Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd. (VISUL)on the asking of then chief minister (Koda).

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“The statement is not admissible as evidence being hearsay evidence and it cannot be relied upon,” Koda’s counsel said.

The case involves allocation of coal blocks to Kolkata-based VISUL in Jharkhand’s Rajhara town, in which its directors and unknown public servants of the coal ministry, the Jharkhand government and others were named as accused in the first information report (FIR) lodged in September 2012.

Basu, along with former coal secretary Harish Chandra Gupta, is also an accused in the charge sheet filed in December 2014.

Koda said the decision on allocating the Rajhara North coal block in Jharkhand to VISUL was taken by the 36th screening committee and he had nothing to do with it.

Seeking discharge in the case, Koda said evidence brought by the Central Bureau of Investigation against him was insufficient and cannot be relied upon to prosecute him.

The arguements will continue on Wednesday.

The CBI has said the company was not recommended by either the union steel ministry or the Jharkhand government.

However, then Jharkhand chief secretary Basu, who had attended the screening committee meeting on July 3, 2008, had signed its minutes recommending the allocation to the firm.

The other accused are VISUL director Vaibhav Tulsyan, chartered accountant Navin Kumar Tulsyan, two government officials Basant Kumar Bhattacharya and Bipin Bihari Singh, and alleged middleman Vijay Joshi.

They were charged with cheating and criminal conspiracy under the Prevention of Corruption Act.