November 9, 2021 1:19:21 pm
A special court, under the Prevention of Corruption Act, has acquitted Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga in two cases — one related to misuse of power and the other to possession of disproportionate assets.
Two organisations — People Right to Information and Development Implementing Society of Mizoram (PRISM), the erstwhile anti-corruption watchdog, and Mizoram Upa Pawl, a senior citizens’ association — had filed a case in 2009 against Zoramthanga for alleged misuse of power as a public servant to procure angle iron posts and goat-proof wire mesh from the agriculture department for his farm at Aii puk area in Sihphir in 2007.
Back then, too, Zoramthanga was the chief minister.
The state Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) had filed an additional charge sheet alleging that Zoramthanga held assets disproportionate to his known sources of income.
The charge sheet said that in 2003, Zoramthanga had declared in his affidavit that he owned assets worth Rs 54.18 lakh, which then grew to over Rs 1.38 crore before 2008 elections, without having registered any known source of income.
In the first case, judge Vanlalenmawia said on Monday that materials from the agricultural department were legally issued for the benefit of needy farmers.
There is a provision for giving out those fencing materials under the scheme — Assistance to Small Marginal Farmers, he said.
“In fact, under the scheme, those farming implements could be issued to Aii Puk Farmers’ Association at 50% subsidy or even free of cost depending upon the availability of the materials. Mention may be made in this regard that the Aii Puk Farmers’ Association applied to the Agriculture & Minor Irrigation department for Angle Iron posts and G.P. wire mesh and the same were given to the association,” the judgment order stated.
The court further said that it did not find sufficient evidence to prove the accused had assets disproportionate to his known sources of income, and therefore he is not liable to be convicted under Section 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (punishment for offence by a public servant).
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