Gangtok, 28 Jun:
The High Court of Sikkim today upheld the conviction of SKM president, PS Tamang (Golay), by the Special Court Prevention of Corruption Act in a corruption case dating back to his tenure as Animal Husbandry Minister of the first SDF Government in Sikkim in 1994-99.
Mr Tamang, it may be recalled was convicted by a lower court on 28 December, 2016, on charges of dishonest misappropriation of public property under Section 403 and criminal breach of trust under Section 406 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The case related to his tenure as the Animal Husbandry Minister and involved the distribution of milch cows. The covered period 1996-97 and the misappropriation involved was to the tune of Rs. 9.50 lakhs.
Meanwhile, the High Court acquitted the co-accused, Til Bahadur Gurung, on one count, but upheld his conviction under another section of the PC Act. He was acquitted on charges framed under Section 403, but his guilt was affirmed by the High Court for charges drawn up under section 406.
However, Chief Justice Satish Kumar Agnihotri, in light of the advanced age of the co-accused, who is now 82 years old, reduced his sentence to simple imprisonment for a period of six months from the original one year awarded to him and reduced the fine component from Rs 10,000 to Rs 5,000.
While pronouncing the judgment in open court, the CJ pronounced today that the appeal preferred by Prem Singh Tamang “is dismissed”.
The High Court also order also directed that the appellants be taken into custody forthwith. Mr Tamang, it is learnt, is not in station, while the co-accused, it is informed, was taken into custody pending his bail to allow for a further appeal in the Supreme Court if they so desire.
Menawhile, Mr Tamang in his response to the High Court decision, as per his message to SKM supporters, has called on upon them not to panic and informs that he will “further appeal in the Supreme Court and seek for justice there”.
“I just received the news from the High Court of Sikkim and I honour the decision with my upmost respect to the house of justice,” he begins his message.
It may be recalled, that earlier this year, on 12 January, Mr Tamang had become the first MLA of Sikkim to be disqualified from his membership of the State Legislature following his conviction in a corruption case.
The case in question was registered by Sikkim Vigilance Directorate after the High Court of Sikkim had issued directions to it to investigate into the alleged misappropriation of government funds in the distribution of milch cows to the BPL families.
The High Court order had come after the then Sikkim Sangram Parishad leader Nar Bahadur Bhandari and Nuk Tshering Bhutia alias Melli Sonam had filed a Public Interest Litigation in the year 2003 levelling these allegations. It was then that the High Court of Sikkim had directed the Vigilance Directorate to register a case.
Finally, in 2010, Vigilance Police had filed a chargesheet against Mr Tamang and seven others, however, two were discharged while framing the charges, and three were acquitted by the designated PC Act Court.