New Delhi, Sep 26 : The Delhi High Court on Tuesday suspended the four-year sentence of former Rajya Sabha MP Vijay Darda, his son Devender Darda, and JLD Yavatmal Energy Pvt Ltd’s Director Manoj Kumar Jayaswal, who were handed a four-year jail term on July 26 for their involvement in irregularities in the allocation of a coal block in Chhattisgarh.
Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma had granted Dardas and Jayaswal interim bail on July 28 till September 26, and had issued notice on the pleas moved by Dardas and Jayaswal against the trial court order convicting and sentencing them in the case.
The court had also sought Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)’s response.
On Tuesday, Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma allowed the pleas and suspended the sentence till the pendency of their appeals challenging their conviction and jail term in the case.
The court also directed them not to leave the country without prior permission of the court.They were also directed 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 said.
For the convicts, advocate Vijay Aggarwal submitted that they were never arrested and were on bail during the trial and have never misused the liberty of bail.
He further informed the judge that the fine imposed by the trial court had already been deposited by the convicts.Hence, the court was urged to suspend the sentence imposed on them during the pendency of the appeals.
On the other hand, advocate Tarannum Cheema, appearing for CBI, opposed the pleas for suspension of sentence.
The high court has now listed the appeals for consideration on February 14, 2024.
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 Darda 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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