The Meghalaya High Court has imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on the headman and secretary of Marwir village, Myriaw Syiemship, West Khasi Hills for violating the fundamental rights of two senior citizens.
Following the plea by the two victims, Thwen Marngar and Drian Lyngkhoi, the bench of Justice Hamarsan Singh Thangkhiew directed that the fine should be paid to the two senior citizens who are also residents of the village.
The court also ordered that the two residents shall not be prevented, restrained or impeded in any manner by the Dorbar Shnong in the use the village road for any lawful purpose such as for transport of their agricultural produce, essential commodities and other goods, by head load, or by vehicle as the case may be.
It also said that the Marngar and Lyngkhoi shall also not be prevented in any manner from availing of any available developmental schemes and assistance from government agencies.
The court stated that any coercive action against the petitioners, such as social boycott or any other punitive measure that may be adopted by the Dorbar Shnong shall immediately be reported to the West Khasi Hills district administration, “who shall take appropriate action thereon”.
The High Court passed the verdict on the plea by the two senior citizens who are also farmers.
It may be noted that in 2019, the Marwir Village Dorbar for the proposed construction of a motorable road on the existing village kutcha road, by availing Government Schemes, had requested the two residents and five other land owners to give No Objection Certificates (NOCs) to part with a portion of their individual lands for construction of the road.
It was then alleged by the headman and secretary of Marwir village that the two senior citizens had refused to give an NOC, with regard to their portion of land.
Following this, the dorbar passed a resolution on April 24, 2019 prohibiting the two senior citizens from using the village road for transportation of their produce, and also forbade any vehicle from transporting or carrying the agricultural produce of the two senior citizens with the condition that a fine of an amount of Rs 5,000 would be imposed on any violator.
The two senior citizens approached the headman and secretary of the village requesting them to reconsider the same and to compromise the matter, but their request bore no fruit.
Thereafter, the two senior citizens lodged a complaint before the police on October 23, 2019, which was however withdrawn, on the assurance by the headman and secretary of the village that the matter would be settled amicably.
However, as the matter remained unsettled, the two senior citizens then approached the officials of the State government by way of a representation, against the mistreatment and discrimination meted out to them by the village dorbar.
Though some efforts were made through the Block Development Officer, Mawthadraishan and also by the Gram Sevak, no solution could be arrived at, which had therefore compelled the two senior citizens to approach the High Court.
In its verdict on September 14, the High Court said the resolution passed by the village dorbar on April 24, 2019 was in violation and in contravention of the fundamental rights of the two petitioners.
According to the court, the restrictions imposed on the movement of the petitioners, as also preventing them from transporting their produce and essential commodities is “manifestly illegal, discriminatory and at the same time punitive which militates against and offends Articles-14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India”.
The High Court also quashed and set aside the resolution passed by the village dorbar and termed it as being patently illegal and arbitrary.