Acquittal of HC Gupta and judge’s scathing observation for CBI raise questions on legality of coal scam cases

The acquittal of former coal secretary HC Gupta in a coal scam case and the judge’s scathing observation have raised serious questions on the legality of corruption charges in the much-talked-about coal scam. While acquitting Gupta, Special Judge Bharat Parashar on Friday said that the CBI had ‘miserably failed’ to prove the charges of criminal conspiracy, criminal misconduct and criminal breach of trust by a public servant against the accused.

HC Gupta

Gupta was the coal secretary between 31 December 2005 to November 2008. He was accused of corruption in the allocation of the Brahmapuri coal block in Chhattisgarh to one Delhi-based firm Pushp Steels and Mining Pvt Ltd.

The court, according to news agency PTI, said in its order that ‘none of the circumstances/ allegations levelled against the two accused stands proved much less cogently proved so the question of the proved facts and circumstances forming a chain of circumstance so complete as not to leave any reasonable ground for any conclusion consistent with the innocence of accused or otherwise does not arise at all.’

Gupta’s acquittal evoked angry reactions both on social media and from civil servants. Anil Swarup, who also worked as a coal secretary in the Indian government, took to Twitter to vent out his frustration. He wrote, “The CBI didn’t fail “miserably’. Mr Gupta wasn’t at fault at all. Glad that justice has finally been done but considerably delayed. There is still a long & painful journey ahead. If we continue to hound honest & efficient they will become even more scarce.”

Another serving civil servant, Captain Manivannan wrote on Twitter, “Finally! Thank God and the Judiciary. As long as Judiciary does its work properly, the spirit of India will live on.”

While Gupta found plenty of support on social media, many felt that appropriate ‘systemic corrective measures’ ought to be taken to avoid such embarrassment in future.

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