New Delhi: Former Sikkim Chief Minister Nar Bahadur Bhandari was today convicted along with nine others, including an IAS officer, by a designated CBI court in Gangtok for bungling in the state water scam, leading to a loss of Rupees four lakh to the state exchequer.
The court sentenced Bhandari and the then state Rural Development Secretary P K Pradhan to six-month imprisonment along with Rupees 10,000 as fine.
Eight private contractors were also sentenced to five-month imprisonment and a fine of Rupees 5,000 was slapped on them by the court.
The case was registered against the former chief minister and 15 others in 1984 and the charge sheet was filed in 1994.
However, the trial could not begin as Bhandari and others filed several pleas in various courts including the Sikkim High Court.
They were charged by the CBI with criminal conspiracy, criminal misconduct and corruption. While two were acquitted, four contractors died during the trial period.
According to the CBI in New Delhi, Pradhan, in connivance with Bhandari, had awarded the works of rural water supply scheme in Sikkim to contractors on exorbitant rates ignoring recommendations of engineers and the lowest rates of deserving contractors, causing loss to the state exchequer.
Eight of the accused had challenged the order of the Special Judge, Gangtok, for framing charges against them. The State Government during 1983 had sanctioned 36 rural water supply schemes under the minimum needs programme, involving an expenditure of about Rupees 1.62 crores.
Irregularities were found in 12 schemes. Bhandari and Pradhan along with contractors had entered into a criminal conspiracy abusing their official position as public servants and caused pecuniary advantage to the contractors by awarding the contracts on higher rates, the agency said.