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February 21, 2000
Sikkim ex-CM Bhandari indicted for corruption
A special court (corruption) has framed charges against former Sikkim chief minister Nar Bahadur Bhandari and former chief secretary Purna Kumar Pradhan in what is known in the state as the water scandal.
Special Judge B C Sharma framed charges against the two on February 17 under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The Central Bureau of Investigation has accused the two of corrupt practices in the implementation of 36 rural water supply schemes under the state's 'minimum needs programme' in 1983-84.
Bhandari was the chief minister and Pradhan the secretary of the rural development department at the time.
Sharma said the two extended pecuniary favours to their "favourite" contractors.
The CBI in its chargesheet has alleged that Pradhan "conspired with the chief minister through corrupt and illegal means", causing a loss of Rs 400,000 to the state exchequer.
The state government, when Bhandari retained power in 1987, had withdrawn its consent to the CBI to investigate the case. But the Supreme Court, in response to a petition filed in 1994 by the Himalayan state's first chief minister, Kazi Lendup Dorjee, allowed the agency to continue with its investigations.
Of the 17 originally accused in the case, two died when the trial was in progress while 10 others were discharged. The next hearing of the case has been fixed for April 3.
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