|Mizoram to challenge discharge of accused|
AIZAWL, Nov 27 - Mizoram Government has decided to appeal in the Gauhati High Court against the judgement of an anti-corruption court here that discharged all the accused in the alleged corruption in the construction of two mini hydel projects in the State.
The special court of Prevention of Corruption Act on October 27 last discharged the four accused due to lack of evidence.
Three officials – Liansanga, former PWD chief engineer, Lalnunmawia Sailo, former superintending engineer of Power & Electricity dept; Laldawngliana, former SDO and one supplier, Swapan Kumar Roy – were named in the final chargesheet submitted in February this year by the State Anti Corruption Bureau to the court.
The engineers and officials involved in the construction of Tuipanglui and Kau Tlabung mini-hydel projects in the early 1990s in southern Mizoram allegedly swindled Rs 933 lakh.
More than 10 engineers and officials were named in the FIR filed by anti-corruption organisation Prism, but charges against most of them were dropped by the ACB when it began investigation last year, due to lack of evidence.
The government on November 21 last approved the appeal made by government advocates in the Aizawl district court to appeal to the High Court, said government advocate RC Thanga.
“The court should have thoroughly examined the charge sheet filed by police and documents filed by the complainants before framing charges. The court made the judgement based on the defence counsel’s statements and those of their witnesses. The prosecution counsel was not given a chance to make any arguments and no witnesses were summoned,” Thanga said.
The Mizoram government advocates in the Gauhati High Court are preparing to make the appeal, collecting important documents.
The corruption case has a long history with the first FIR having been filed in 1996. After the case got abandoned, Prism revived it by filing an FIR with the State Anti-Corruption Branch (now Bureau) in 2008.
“After a thorough investigation, Vigilance department ordered ACB to register a criminal case against 13 engineers on May 13, 2010,” Vanlalruata of Prism said. The Vigilance department, however, ordered the Bureau to withdraw the case on July 2, 2010 without stating any reason.
Terming the government’s order to withdraw the case as an attempt to cover up, Prism filed a PIL in Gauhati High Court in August 2010. After dismissal of the case and yet another petition for restoration, Gauhati High Court finally took into cognisance the petition filed by Prism in January 2013.
In the final hearing on March 17, 2015, Gauhati High Court ordered the Mizoram Government to file criminal cases against the persons involved.
Prism’s FIR said the accused engineers prepared revised estimates of Rs 1,470 lakh for the two mini hydel projects after the projects had already been completed (ostensibly to pay outstanding liabilities but of which Rs 373 lakh remained unaccounted for).
They are also accused of spending almost Rs 129 lakh to “repair vehicles”, missed out building more than two dozen culverts, paid ghost employees, “bought” material that never reached the site and ordered unnecessary materials while over-spending for other works.
The complaint pointed out that the estimate for Tuipanglui project rose from Rs 980 lakh in 1992 to Rs 3721 lakh by 2001 (an almost four-fold escalation), while that for the Kau-Tlabung project rose from Rs 482 lakh in 1994 to Rs 3253 lakh in 2001 (an almost seven-fold escalation).