Tuesday, June 19, 2007

CBI appeal against acquittal of N.B.Bhandari

Gangtok, June 18: Acquitted in one CBI case and found guilty in another, there is more legal battle in store for Sikkim Congress president Nar Bahadur Bhandari.
The CBI today appealed in the high court against the verdict of the special court at Namchi, which had acquitted the former chief minister in one of the cases related to possession of wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income.
Counsel for the CBI V.K. Sharma filed the appeal at a time when Bhandari was attending a hearing of the third CBI case against him in the district and sessions court (East and North) in Gangtok today.
Terming the verdict a “gross miscarriage of justice”, Sharma said: “We have pleaded in our appeal that the learned special judge misread the facts and laws on record.”
A date for the hearing of the case will be fixed only after the high court examines the petition.
Bhandari had been given a clean chit by Tashi Wangdi, the special judge of the Namchi court trying cases under Prevention of Corruption Act. The 51-page order had acquitted him of all charges in the particular case.
The case was first registered by the CBI in 1997. The chargesheet was filed in 2001. The agency had alleged that Bhandari had amassed wealth worth Rs 1.12 crore against an income of Rs 44 lakh during his tenure as chief minister from 1985 to 1994.
The case hinged on the fact that Bhandari had taken on lease a plot of land from one Ashok Tshering Bhutia and had constructed a house on that, the cost of which was Rs 84 lakh. The house was in the name of his son.
Bhandari, however, was found guilty in another CBI case, the verdict of which was delivered in the last week of May. He was sentenced to one month simple imprisonment for amassing Rs 22 lakh — a part of which was allegedly spent on constructing Primula House at Church Road here.
S.W. Lepcha, the special judge in Gangtok, had granted bail the same day after hearing the plea of Bhandari’s counsel that he would appeal in a higher court.