SC want Sikkim CM Chamling to answer on corruption charges

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New Delhi: January 25, 2012

Taking action on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), on Monday, 23 January 2012, Supreme Court has issued notice to the central and Sikkim governments and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to respond to the serious allegations of corruption against Chief Minister Pawan Chamling and other ministers in his Government. The Supreme Court has quashed the requirement of Sikkim Government’s notification before probing complaints of corruption against its functionaries and employees. The notice has been issued by the bench of Justice R.M. Lodha and Justice H.L. Gokhale.

The petitioner, Delay Namgyal Barfugpa says that CBI has enough proof of alleged involvement in corrupt practices. Prior to the notification there was a general consent under which CBI could proceed against any official of the state or the central government in the state without any sanction.

Senior counsel Raju Ramachandran, who appeared for the petitioner, told the court that they have moved the court as it is matter of utmost public importance. He told the court that the decision of the state government to restrict the jurisdiction of the CBI on the basis of the requirement of prior sanction and refusal to accord such consent against the chief minister was vitiated by malafide (bad faith).

Senior lawyer Ram Jethamalani, appearing for the Sikkim government, opposed the petition saying that it was politically motivated case but the court observed that it was not getting any picture of it being a political case. Senior counsel K.K.Venugopal, appearing for Chamling, told the court that the petition was against the refusal of Right to Information (RTI) application against the chief minister and thus they should go before the appropriate appellate forum under the RTI Act.

In reply to the RTI application, the Sikkim government had taken a stand that chief minister was in the exempted category. The court too was not impressed by the plea of the state’s Advocate General A. Mariarputham that the state government has already instituted an inquiry into the matter and there was no need for probe by CBI. The inquiry was under the State government, the court observed. The petition said that the initial CBI probe has found that Chamling and legislators, during the period 1999-2009 “had indulged in various corrupt practices including the commission of criminal misconduct and acquisition of disproportionate assets”.

Sikkim Democratic Party is in power since 1994 with Pawan Kumar Chamling as the Chief Minister. The party consolidated its position sweeping the 1999 and 2004 state elections. It won 31 of the 32 assembly seats in the 2004 election. In the 2009 assembly election, the party made a clean sweep, winning all 32 seats. It also retained the lone Lok Sabha seat.

With IANS inputs



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