New Delhi: Former Union Minister P K Thungon was today awarded a four-and-a-half year jail term by a Delhi court in connection with a case lodged in 1998 pertaining to misappropriation of Rs two crore relesed by the Centre.
Besides the prison term, Special CBI Judge Ajay Kumar Jain also imposed a total fine of Rs 10,000 on 68-year-old Thungon, a former Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh.
The court awarded three-and-a-half years imprisonment to the two other convicts, Tali AO and C Sangit, while fourth convict Mahesh Maheshwari was awarded two-and-a-half years jail term in the case.
It imposed a fine of Rs 6,000 on Tali AO and that of Rs 4,000 each on Sangit and Maheshwari.
During arguments held earlier in the day, CBI had sought "approporiate sentence" for Thungon and the three other convicts.
The agency prosecutor told the court that Thungon had held high office having been the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh and a Minister of State at the Centre, but he still committed the crime.
"An appropriate sentence should be awarded to Thungon while keeping in view his stature. The three other convicts helped him in the conspiracy, so appropriate sentence should be given to them," the prosecutor submitted.
He also said that four other cases were still pending against Thungon. Thungon's counsel contended before the court that all the other cases pending against his client were arising out of a single FIR lodged by CBI in an alleged housing scam case and that he was the only one to look after his ailing wife who is suffering from various serious ailments.
The court had on July 21 convicted Thungon, who was the then Minister of State Ministry, Urban Affairs and Employment, Tali AO, C Sangit and Mahesh Maheshwari in the case and sent them to jail.
All the four convicts were brought to the court today from the prison.
Thungon and three others were convicted for offences under sections 120 B (criminal conspiracy) read with 419 (cheating by personation), 420 (cheating), 467 (forgery of valuable security), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating) and 471 (using as genuine a forged document) of IPC and under relevant provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
According to CBI, in pursuance to the proposal of Nagaland government, the then Planning Commission had sanctioned an amount of Rs two crore in 1994 for renovation and upgradation of minor irrigation projects for the state and the money was to be released in two instalments of Rs one crore each.
It had said that the accused had misappropriated the funds.
During the hearing today, Thungon submitted that he was the first CM of Arunachal Pradesh because of his efforts to make it a Union territory and then a state.
"The Jawaharlal Nehru Open University was my brain child and the open schooling was also my idea which was implemented during the tenure of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
"The Panchayati Raj was enacted in Parliament because of my idea during the tenure of then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and I have worked for national integration," he said.
To this, the judge told Thungon, "I think you were in wrong company. You appear to be an honest man by your face and your talk."
The counsel, appearing for the other three convicts, had also sought leniency on the ground that no other cases were pending against them.
The court while convicting them, had observed that facts of the case highlighted the "pathetic condition of administrative affairs of Nagaland" as Rs two crore were
misappropriated by accused persons but no complaint in this regard was initiated.
It has also summoned for November 4 the five other officials as accused, who are - K Konngam Konyak, the then Minister of State of Irrigation and Flood Control Department, Mezakrol, then Joint Director in the department, and the then public servants Nielakuo Suokhrie, K Angami and Bandang Wapang.