There are four cases pending against sitting MLAs and former MLAs in Meghalaya. These include three in East Khasi Hills and one in West Jaintia Hills.
This was stated in a report furnished by the Computer Section of the Meghalaya High Court during a hearing by a special bench of Acting Chief Justice Hamarsan Singh Thangkhiew today.
“A report as directed by an order dated 11.12.2023 has been furnished by the Computer Section of the High Court. The report reflects that there are only four cases pending in the entire State, three in East Khasi Hills District and one in West Jaintia Hills District. Let a copy of the report which has been submitted be supplied to the learned Advocate-General. List the matter on February 27,” Justice Thangkhiew said in his order.
One of the cases in East Khasi Hills is pending in the Court of the Special Judge (CBI) against cabinet minister and Shillong East MLA Ampareen Lyngdoh under Sections 120B, 420, 467, 468, 471, 201 of IPC and Section 13(2) read with Section 13(1)(d) of Prevention of Corruption Act. The case has a maximum punishment of ten years in jail.
The charge-sheet against Lyngdoh was filed on June 25, 2020 and the framing of charges was done on August 24, 2022. The case was to be completed within four years. The case is pending for more than three years.
Another case in East Khasi Hills is pending in the Court of the Special Judge (PMLA) against former Umroi MLA Stanly Wiss Rymbai Lyngdoh under Sections 120B, 423 IPC and Section 13(C) of Prevention of Corruption Act. The case has a maximum punishment of seven years in jail.
The charge-sheet against Rymbai was filed on April 18, 2019 under Section 45 of PMLA Act. The hearing of the case is still continuing. The case was to be completed within four years. The case is pending for more than four years.
Further, another case in East Khasi Hills is pending in the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Shillong against former minister Deborah C. Marak under Section 120-B, 171F and 506 of IPC. The case has a maximum punishment of seven years in jail.
The charge-sheet against Marak was filed on October 31, 2014 and the date for framing of charges was January 29, 2021. The case was to be completed within 10-12 month. The case is pending for eight years.
In West Jaintia Hills, a case is pending in the Court of Special Judge POCSO against former Mawhati MLA Julius Kitbok Dorphang under Sections 5(c)(I)and 6 of POCSO Act. The case has a maximum punishment of life imprisonment for life or death sentence.
The charge-sheet against Dorphang was filed on February 8, 2017 and the date for framing of charges was June 7, 2017. The case was to be completed within one year. The case is pending for over five years.
It may be mentioned that the Supreme Court in its judgement passed on November 9, 2023 has asked the Chief Justices of the High Courts to register a suo-motu case with the title, “In Re: designated courts for MPs/MLAs” to monitor early disposal of criminal cases pending against MLAs and MPs.
The suo-motu case will be heard by the Special Bench presided by the Chief Justices or a bench assigned by them.
“The Special Bench hearing the suo-motu case may list the matter at regular intervals as is felt necessary. The High Court may issue such orders and/or directions as are necessary for expeditious and effective disposal of the subject cases. The Special Bench may consider calling upon the Advocate General or the Public Prosecutor to assist the Court.The High Court may require the Principal District and Sessions Judge to bear the responsibility of allocating the subject cases to such court or courts as is considered appropriate and effective. The High Court may call upon the Principal District and Sessions Judge to send reports at such intervals as it considers expedient,” the Supreme Court said.
The Supreme Court also stated that the designated courts should give priority first to criminal cases against MPs and MLAs punishable with death or life imprisonment, then to cases punishable with imprisonment for five years or more, and then hear other cases. It also said that the trial courts shall not adjourn the cases except for rare and compelling reasons.
“The learned Chief Justices may list cases in which orders of stay of trial have been passed before the Special Bench to ensure that appropriate orders, including vacation of stay orders are passed to ensure commencement and conclusion of trial. The Principal District and Sessions Judge shall ensure sufficient infrastructure facility for the designated courts and also enable it to adopt such technology as is expedient for effective and efficient functioning,” the top court said.
Further, the Supreme Court directed the High Courts to create an independent tab on their website providing district-wise information about the details of the year of filing, number of subject cases pending and stage of proceedings.
“We make it clear that while monitoring the subject cases, the Special Bench may pass such orders or give such additional directions as are necessary for early disposal of the subject cases,” the Supreme Court added.