A special court on Tuesday convicted former Union minister Prem Khandu Thungon and three others in a 1998 corruption case related to misappropriation of funds meant for an irrigation project in Nagaland.
Special Judge Ajay Kumar Jain found Thungon, then MoS, Ministry of Urban Affairs and Employment, in the P V Narasimha Rao government, and three others — Tali AO, C Sangit and Mahesh Maheshwari — guilty of criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery under the IPC and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
“Accused P K Thungon, Tali AO, C Sangit and Mahesh Maheshwari are convicted and sent to judicial custody,” Special Judge Jain observed and set July 27 as the date for the hearing on the quantum of sentence.
Thungon, who was Arunachal Chief Minister between 1975 and 1979, was taken into custody along with the three others convicted in the case.
The CBI had registered the case in 1998. Five years later, the agency chargesheeted 10 people, including Thungon, alleging that the former Union minister, in collusion with Maheshwari, fraudulently opened a bank account in the name of Thanu Thungan, a non-existent person, to divert government money.
According to the CBI, the Planning Commission had sanctioned Rs 2 crore for the renovation and upgrade of irrigation projects for Nagaland, and the money was to be released in two installments of Rs 1 crore each. The first installment of Rs 1 crore was kept in civil deposit by the Nagaland government and on the request of Joint Director of Irrigation and Flood Control, orders were placed for the purchase of “sausage wire” of Rs 50 lakh.
The CBI alleged that convict Tali AO submitted a bill of Rs 29,99,295 to the government and requested that a demand draft of Rs 10 lakh should be prepared in favour of one Thanu Thungan and another demand draft of Rs 15 lakh in favour of one K Konngon Konyak, adding that Mezakrol, who was the then Joint Director of Irrigation and Flood Control, got these demand drafts issued.
The CBI also claimed that a demand draft of Rs 9,98,500, issued in favour of Thanu Thungan, was deposited on April 25, 1994 at Daryaganj branch of Vijaya Bank in New Delhi in an account which was opened by Mahesh Maheshwari.
The CBI said that Maheshwari had impersonated as Thanu Thungan, and Rs 8 lakh was transferred to another account of the same branch of Vijaya Bank, which was allegedly opened by P K Thungon in the name of Prem Kumar.
Meanwhile, in a separate judgment related to the same case, the court has summoned Konyak, Mezakrol and two others — Khrieuguozo Angami and Badang Wapang — as accused on November 4.