Mizoram court

Aizwal, July 25: A local court in Mizoram on Monday sentenced the state’s lone BJP MLA Buddha Dhan Chakma and 12 others to one-year rigorous imprisonment and also imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 for a 10-year-old corruption case.

The BJP legislator, however, after the court verdict said that they would move to the Gauhati High Court against the judgment of the court of the Special Judge (Prevention of Corruption Act).

Besides the 49-year-old BJP MLA, the other 12 Chakma leaders include Chakma Autonomous District Council (CADC) Chief Executive Member (CEM) Buddha Lila Chakma, two Executive Members, and three former CEMs of the autonomous body.

The court on Friday convicted the MLA and 12 other Chakma leaders under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, saying that they misappropriated Rs 137.10 lakh allocated by the government for developmental work. The accused had taken the money as “advance salary” without the permission of the Governor and the state government.

The graft cases against the 13 leaders were initiated by the then state BJP General Secretary and the incumbent state party President Vanlalhmuaka, who had submitted a written complaint to the then Governor in 2013.

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The Governor following the complaint constituted a one-man inquiry commission and based on the commission’s report, the Mizoram District Council and Minority Affairs Department registered an FIR with the state Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) in 2018.

When Vanlalhmuaka made the complaint, Congress was governing the CADC headed by B.D. Chakma as CEM. Chakma was later elected to the state Assembly on a Congress ticket and became a minister of the state till his resignation in 2017 in protest against the denial of medical seats to four Chakma students by the then-state government led by the Congress leader Lal Thanhawla.

He later joined the BJP and was elected to the state Assembly as the saffron party’s nominee in the 2018 Assembly polls, thus becoming the first-ever BJP MLA from the bordering Northeastern state.