3 Directors Discharged in Marki Mangli Coal Allocation Scam
The 3 directors - SK Mitra, Surendra Lodha and AK Nevatia had no role to play in irregular and fraudulent coal allocation in the erstwhile Shree Virangana Steel Ltd.
Recently, a special CBI Court found no incriminating evidence against 3 directors of Topworth Urja & Metals Limited who were facing accusations of cheating, fraud and criminal conspiracy. These allegations date back to a 2005 coal allocation scam.
Topworth Urja & Metals Ltd under different management and name at the time of coal block allocation
The company was being run under the name of Shree Veerangana Steel Ltd. (SVSL) when the irregular allotment of coal took place.
The screening committee of the Ministry of Coal had allocated 3 captive coal mining blocks in Yavatmal district of Maharashtra to Shree Veerangana Steels Ltd in the year 2005. The CBI alleged that the original promoters of the company - Anil Kumar Saxena, Manoj Maheshwari and Anand Nand Kishore Sarda tendered wrong information to induce the screening committee of the Ministry of Coal (MoC) to allocate Marki Mangla coal block II, III and IV. It was also alleged that the company resorted to excessive mining without augmenting the capacity of its existing Sponge Iron Plant.
CBI claimed foul play in the execution of mining lease deeds
The FIR accuses the old office bearers of deceiving MoC regarding the use of a nonexistent name of the company to execute a lease in their favour. The validity of the said lease deed was questioned during CBI’s investigation. It was also claimed that although the company was operating under a new name but the same was not approved by MoC.
The present directors allegedly issued power of attorney in favour of former directors to execute invalid mining lease deeds even after the company’s name changed from SVSL to Topworth Urja & Metals Ltd. Director Mr Surendra Lodha was accused of suppressing the fact that the shareholding pattern changed the hands in 2006-2008.
No dishonesty in the execution of mining lease deeds
The Court made it clear that the acts of the accused persons in executing the three power of attorneys in the old name of the company can not be termed as dishonest. In fact, the new directors of the company had disclosed the name change to the concerned authorities promptly. External correspondence on the company's letterhead exhibit the new name of the company i.e. M/s Topworth Urja & Metals Ltd. In these documents, It was clearly mentioned that the company was formerly known as Shree Virangana Steels Ltd.
The Court found the mining lease was perfectly legal and the same is not in dispute. The Judge was of the view that the impugned acts can at the most be termed as an irregularity and cannot be interpreted so as to impute any criminality or culpability upon the accused persons.
Court discharges the present directors of the company citing lack of evidence against them
The 3 directors - SK Mitra, AK Nevatia and Surendra Lodha had taken over the management of the company in 2006.
Advocate Pramod Kumar Dubey appearing for Mr Lodha told the Court that his client duly informed the government about the change in the company’s name and structure.
The learned Counsel further added that prosecution has failed to establish a meeting of mind between Surendra Champalal Lodha and other accused persons.
“There was no conspiracy between the current and the former officers of the company,” he told the Court.
Accordingly, the Court was of the view that the 3 directors - SK Mitra, Mr Lodha had no role to play in irregular and fraudulent coal allocation in the erstwhile Shree Virangana Steel Ltd.
Former office bearers found guilty of misrepresentation and forgery
The Court did find the former office-bearers Anil Kumar Saxena, Manoj Maheshwari and Anand Nand Kishore Sarda guilty of misrepresenting material information for the purpose of inducing the screening committee of MoC to allocate the three coal blocks in favour of the company.
The Court categorically found Mr Anand Nand Kishore Sharda guilty of forging various letters for the purpose of cheating and misleading the screening committee.
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