Aizawl: The court of the Special Judge (Prevention of Corruption Act) in Mizoram on Monday sentenced former state minister and lone BJP legislator Dr. Buddha Dhan Chakma and 12 other Chakma leaders to one year rigorous imprisonment over a five-year-old graft case.
However, the 13 leaders were released on bail the same day.
Earlier on July 22, the court had convicted the leaders under section 13(1)(d) read with 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 for abusing their official powers and withdrawing Rs 137.10 lakh of special assistance fund allocated for implementation of development works in the Chakma Autonomous District Council during 2013-2018.
The convicts withdrew the amount as advance salaries without permission from the state governor or statement government.
Apart from Buddha Dhan Chakma, the convicts included incumbent Chief Executive Member (CEM) of CADC, Buddha Lila Chakma, two executive members (EM), two sitting members (MDC) of CADC and 3 former CEMs of the council.
The remaining four are former EMs of the CADC.
All the convicts were then members of the CADC at the time of committing offences.
The court announced sentences against the convicts on Monday.
According to the sentence order pronounced by the special judge Vanlalenmawia, a fine of Rs 10,000 each was slapped against the1 3 convicts, apart from sentencing to undergo rigorous imprisonment for 1 year.
They would undergo simple imprisonment for another 30 days if they fail to pay the fines, the order said.
Soon after the sentence hearing, the court of the special judge also released the convicts on bail following a plea by the convicts counsel that they (convicts) will challenge the court verdicts at a higher court.
Earlier, Buddha Dhan Chakma had told reporters that they would challenge the judgements at the Gauhati High Court.
In 2017, current state BJP president Vanlalhmuaka, who was then the party general secretary, raised complaints over irregularities in the Chakma council asking the state governor to dissolve it.
Subsequently, the governor constituted a one-man inquiry commission Dr A Muthamma, the then deputy commissioner of Lawngtlai district.After the commission submitted its report to the governor, an under secretary of the state district council and minority affairs filed an FIR with the state Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) in 2018.
The political party in power at the CADC in 2013 then was Congress headed by Dr. Budhha Dhan Chakma as CEM.Chakma was later elected as MLA on a Congress ticket and became a minister of state in Lal Thanhawla’s cabinet till his resignation in 2017 in protest against the denial of medical seats to four Chakma students by the state government.
Soon after his resignation, he joined BJP and was elected as a legislator in the last assembly polls in 2018 to become the first ever BJP MLA in the state.
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