CBI court takes cognisance of charge sheet against former MoS Coal, ex-CBI chief, Dardas, ET EnergyWorld


<p>Representative image. </p>
Representative image.

New Delhi: A special CBI court has taken cognisance of a charge sheet filed by the agency against its former director Ranjit Sinha (who passed away in 2021); Vijay Darda, former member of Rajya Sabha; businessman Devendra Darda, Vijay Darda’s son; Santosh Bagrodia, former minister of state (MoS) for coal; and K Sudhakar, former senior CBI official for allegedly conspiring to favour the accused involved in the allocation of coal blocks.

The accused have been charged under relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) and on charges of criminal conspiracy by the Central Bureau of Investigation. Taking cognisance of the charge sheet, the court had in April ruled that it was “satisfied that there is sufficient material to take cognisance” of the offences alleged by CBI. However, last month, the court granted bail to all the four accused saying that they “were not arrested during the course of investigation and there are also no allegations that they did not join the investigation”. The four have been directed to not leave India without prior permission from the court.

The investigation was regarding a case registered by CBI in 2012 in a case pertaining to the allocation of Maharashtra’s Bander coal block to AMR Iron and Steel Pvt Ltd.

CBI has alleged that Sinha and Sudhakar “entered into a criminal conspiracy with Dardas and Bagrodia and made writings on the files and prepared a record with the intention and knowledge that their acts will save” Vijay Darda, Devendra Darda and Bagrodia “from legal punishment”.

Allegations against Sinha surfaced when a “visitors” diary revealed that Sinha “privately” met some of the high-profile accused at his official residence in New Delhi several times.

As per the charge sheet, seen by ET, Vijay Darda visited Sinha on three dates (on November and December 22, 2013, and January 28, 2014). Vijay, who is a co-accused in the case, visited Sinha’s residence 13 times (from February 2014 to May 2014). Devendra Darda also continued to visit Sinha’s residence “even after filing of charge sheet” against him in the coal block allocation case on March 27, 2014.

The charge sheet says that when Devendra Darda visited Sinha’s residence on March 11, 2014, Bagrodia was also present. It further alleges that Bagrodia had visited Sinha’s residence 44 times (from May 9, 2013 to June 2014).

The charge sheet says that during the same period Vijay Darda made two telephonic contacts between January 1, 2014, and January 27, 2014; Devendra Darda made seven telephonic connections between January and February 2014 and Bagrodia made 42 calls between December 9, 2012 and June 6, 2014 to Sinha”.

The charge sheet adds that the “role of Vijay Darda, Devendra Darda and Bagrodia was under investigation during the period of their visits to the residence of Sinha and their telephonic contacts with him were also for the same period”.

The charge sheet alleges Bagrodia’s name was “not recommended for prosecution despite clear recommendations from the subordinate officers due to his visits to the official residence of Ranjit Sinha”. The agency further states that the visits of the “Dardas amounted to exercise of undue influence in the case against them, which is evident from the comments of Ranjit Sinha on the file”.

CBI has alleged that Sinha’s comments “were not based on the record collected in the course of investigation of the case”. The CBI has further alleged that evidence gathered by it shows that the visits of the Dardas “did result in undue influence on Ranjit Sinha, resulting in scuttling of” the case involving them.

The charge sheet concludes that Sinha “committed criminal misconduct by helping the accused (Dardas)”. “As part of the conspiracy, Sudhakar, the then ALA arbitrarily and flagrantly reversed his earlier opinion/view, without any additional material or valid reason justifying such somersault”, the charge sheet reads.

The allegation is that the accused public servants helped the other accused obtain valuable things (not being prosecuted or being prosecuted under milder sections) and had committed offences prosecutable under the PCA.

  • Published On Jun 28, 2023 at 07:35 AM IST

Join the community of 2M+ industry professionals

Subscribe to our newsletter to get latest insights & analysis.

Download ETEnergyworld App

  • Get Realtime updates
  • Save your favourite articles


Scan to download App