Lucknow: Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officials in Uttar Pradesh have begun to explore ways to help their former colleague, retired Coal Secretary HC Gupta, an accused in the multi-million coal scam, who stunned a court in the national capital by saying he would prefer to be jailed as he had no money to defend himself.
A day after Gupta told a CBI court in New Delhi that he was pleading guilty to all the accusations levelled against him and requested to be sent behind bars, his juniors in the state have begun an exercise to help the 1971 batch official, who most say is "dead honest".
Senior officials privy to the move told IANS that the IAS Association members in the state are mulling a proposal to pool in money and extend financial and legal assistance to their former colleague.
"This is most unfortunate. Gupta is known across the state for being a humble and an upright official. The fact that he has chosen to go behind bars and not even take legal recourse for lack of funds has pained us immensely and we are trying to help him in as many ways as we can," a principal secretary with the UP government told IANS.
Sources say a message has already been floated on the UP IAS Whatsapp group wherein officials are seeking help for the beleaguered official and asking their colleagues to come up with ways to help Gupta. The help being sought is financial, legal and moral.
Gupta broke into tears on Tuesday and told the court he is seeking to withdraw his bail application.
"I wish not to fight the cases slapped on me as I do not have the financial resources to sustain the costs of taking forward the legal expenses" he said in a choked voice. He also sought to withdraw the authorisation letter given to lawyers to take up his case in the court.
Gupta was the coal secretary during the UPA-II regime and has been named in various FIRs in connection with coal block allocations from 2006 to 2009. One of the cases, involving an allocation to Hindalco, had led to the summoning of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Sources say the bureaucrats from UP are talking to their "legal eagle friends" to take up the case for Gupta and see if he could be helped. The IAS officials also pointed out that under the Prevention of Corruption Act, there was no watertight case against Gupta, as there was neither an intent to do wrong nor a money trail.
"We believe he did what is alleged to have done at the beck and call of the then PMO and he is not involved in the whole issue anyhow" said a senior bureaucrat, not wishing to be named.