The Delhi High Court on Tuesday suspended the sentencing of former Union minister Dilip Ray in a case related to the alleged irregularities in allocation of a coal block in Jharkhand in 1999, the Hindustan Times reported.

This came a day after a special Central Bureau of Investigation sentenced the Union minister to three years of jail term in the case. Three others convicted in the case were also given three-year jail terms. The CBI court fined each of them Rs 10 lakh. Castron Technologies Limited and Castron Mining Limited, both held guilty in the case, were also fined Rs 60 lakh and Rs 10 lakh, respectively.

Ray, who was minister of state for coal in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, was later granted bail on furnishing a bond of Rs 1 lakh. He was also given time till November 25 to appeal in High Court.

On October 6, the CBI court had held Ray guilty in the case. 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.

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. The former Union minister joined the BJP in 2009 and became an MLA. He left the saffron party in 2018 after being chargesheeted by the CBI in 2016.