Mizoram’s lone BJP MLA Buddha Dhan Chakma along with 12 other leaders was sentenced to one year in prison in a corruption case by a special court on Monday.
Special judge Vanlalenmawia sentenced 13 people, including the Tuichawng legislator, to imprisonment for one year for embezzling Rs 1.37 crore of Chakma Autonomous District Council (CADC) between 2013 and 2018.
The court convicted them on July 22 under section 13(1)(d) read with 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 for abusing their official powers and withdrawing the money from the special assistance fund meant for development works.
The other convicts are incumbent Chief Executive Member (CEM) of CADC Buddha Lila Chakma, two executive members, two sitting members (MDC) and three former CEMs. The other four are former executive members of the CADC, which governs parts of Lawngtlai district in southern Mizoram.
All of them were members of the CADC when the corruption happened.
A fine of Rs 10,000 each was also imposed on them by the court, which said they would undergo simple imprisonment for another 30 days if they fail to pay.
Soon after the hearing, the court released the convicts on bail following a plea by their counsel that they would challenge the verdict at a higher court. In 2017, state BJP president Vanlalhmuaka urged the governor to dissolve the Chakma council, alleging irregularities.
Following this, the governor asked the then deputy commissioner (DC) of Lawngtlai A Muthamma to probe the matter. After the DC submitted his report to the governor, an FIR was filed with the state Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in 2018.
Congress was in power in CADC in 2013, and Budhha Dhan Chakma headed it as the CEM.
Chakma was later elected an MLA on a Congress ticket, and became a minister in the state’s then Lal Thanhawla government. He resigned in 2017 in protest against the denial of medical seats to four Chakma students by the state government. Soon after his resignation, he joined the BJP and was elected as an MLA in the 2018 assembly elections. He is the first BJP MLA of the state.