A special court has acquitted Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga, former agriculture minister H Rammawi and two other people in an 11-year-old graft case.

The graft case involved at least Rs 218.50 lakh under Mizoram Intodelhna Programme (MIP), a flagship programme of the erstwhile Mizo National Front (MNF) Government during 1988 to 2008.

The judgement pronounced by special judge of Prevention of Corruption Act – Vanlalenmawia on Tuesday said that the four accused were acquitted as the prosecution has miserably failed to prove its case under section 120B IPC & 13 (1) (c) (d) read with 13 (2) of PC Act, 1988.

In December 2009, the state’s Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) filed complaints against Zoramthanga (then chief minister), H Rammawi Lalhuapzauva (adviser to Zoramthanga when he was CM during 1988-2008) and Vanlalruata Chenkual, managing director, Hnahlan Grape Growers’ Society and Champhai Grape Growers’ Society over the alleged mismanagement of public funds by the state agriculture department by granting free interest loan amounting to Rs 218.5 lakh to four firms for a period of 3 months not extendable beyond 6 months under the Head of Mizoram Intodelhna Programme between 2006 and 2008.

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After a preliminary enquiry, the ACB registered a case and submitted chargesheet against Zoramthanga, H. Rammawi, Lalhuapzauva and K.K. Shah, the managing director of Mizoram Venus Bamboo Product Limited, which was a joint venture of the Mizoram government and K.K. Shah group.

Additional public prosecutor C  Lalrinchhunga argued that there is sufficient evidence the accused for granting loan from MIP fund which is in violation of the MIP Guidelines, 2006 and the fund of which is not repaid by the firm.

According to him, the accused abused their official position as public servants, diverted and misused the public fund.

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On the other hand, the defense counsel W Sam Joseph maintained that the MIP Guidelines 2006 does not show the funds from the MIP should only be given to the beneficiaries as grant.

According to him, none of the prosecution witnesses examined by the prosecution alleged that the funds were misused for their personal gain.

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