Tuesday, May 29, 2007


GANGTOK, May 28: Former Chief Minister and President of State Pradesh Congress Committee, Nar Bahadur Bhandari was sentenced to one month simple imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 5,000 in the disproportionate assets case against him today.

Bhandari was present in self along with his party colleagues and supporters in the District and Sessions Court (North & East), Gangtok which also acted as the Special CBI Court.

Special CBI judge SW Lepcha, who passed the sentence also immediately granted NB Bhandari two months bail on a personal bond of Rs 25,000. He can appeal against the judgement in the High Court within next sixty days. The Special CBI Court declared Bhandari guilty under Section 5(2) 51(e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1947 on May 28.

While Nar Bahadur Bhandari has 60 day’s time to appeal to a higher Court against the verdict, his limitations will start from tomorrow. In case he decides to appeal, there can be two outcomes – either the appeal Court can set the conviction aside or it can confirm the sentence.

During the sentencing today, while the CBI counsel, ID Vaidya made an appeal to the Judge for maximum punishment to Bhandari, the defence Counsel made submission to the Court that he take a more lenient approach while passing the sentence. The defence counsel evoked a clause in the old Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947, under which Bhandari was convicted, which has a provision that allows minimum sentence of less than one year, on three grounds.

The defence counsel told the Court that due consideration be taken of NB Bhandari as a senior citizen and that he had not been keeping good health and had not been convicted in any Court of law so far. He also appealed to the Court to consider the fact that Bhandari had already suffered mental agony and harassment for 24 years fighting the particular case. It was also mentioned that the disproportionate assets case was for a small amount of Rs 15.22 lakhs.

Passing the judgement, the Judge said that the he had heard sufficient arguments from both the parties and in his opinion, the special reasons given by the Defence counsel for leniency in the sentencing sufficed.

The case relates to the alleged construction of a five-storey building by NB Bhandari during his tenure as Chief Minister in Gangtok at a cost of Rs 15.22 lakhs which is unaccounted for.