A special Central Bureau of Investigation court on Monday sentenced former Union minister Dilip Ray to three years’ in jail in a case related to the alleged irregularities in allocation of a coal block in Jharkhand in 1999, PTI reported. Three others convicted in the case have also been awarded three-year jail term each. The court also fined each of them Rs 10 lakh.

Castron Technologies Limited and Castron Mining Limited, both held guilty in the case, will have to pay a penalty of Rs 60 lakh and Rs 10 lakh, respectively.

The court, however, granted bail to Ray immediately after the judgement, ANI reported. He was asked to furnish a bail bond of Rs 1 lakh and given time till November 25 to appeal in High Court.

Earlier this month, the court had held Ray, who held the portfolio for minister of state (coal) in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, guilty. Two senior officials of the Ministry of Coal at that time – Pradip Kumar Banerjee and Nitya Nand Gautam – and Castron Technologies Limited’s Director Mahendra Kumar Agarwalla were also convicted. Special Judge Bharat Parashar had then reserved the order for October 26 after hearing arguments from the Central Bureau of Investigation and the convicts. The investigating agency had sought life imprisonment for the convicts.

The case

Ray and the others were convicted for criminal conspiracy and other offences in allocating 105.153 hectares of abandoned coal mining area in Giridih district of Jharkhand. The coal block was allotted to Castron Technologies Limited in 1999, according to The Hindu.

The court found that Ray had flouted coal ministry guidelines related to opencast mining in order to benefit Castron Technologies Limited. Initially, the Central Vigilance Commission had examined allegations of wrongdoing and corruption in coal block allocation, following which the CBI took over the investigation. Ray was convicted under various sections, including 409 of Indian Penal Code (criminal breach of trust of trust by a public servant) that carries a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.

Ray is one of the founding members of the Biju Janata Dal and was part of the Vajpayee government. He, however, left the party in 2002 and was a member of the Congress from 2004 to 2008. Thereafter, he joined the BJP in 2009 and became an MLA. He left the saffron party in 2018 after being chargesheeted by the CBI in 2016.