SHILLONG: The High Court of Meghalaya on Thursday sentenced the Sordar (tribal village chief) of Wahkhen village Skhembor Khongjirem to a 20-day simple imprisonment for contempt of court after he was found to have issued NOC against the High Court ruling here.
A division Bench consisting Chief Justice Uma Nath Singh and Justice T N K Singh in an order imposed on him a fine of Rs 1,000 to be deposited in two months.
In case of default in payment of fine, Khongjirem will undergo further 10 days’ simple imprisonment, the Bench ordered.
The court held Khongjirem guilty of committing criminal contempt under Section 12 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 (read with Article 215 of the Constitution).
The headman was arrested on Wednesday after he appeared at the hearing conducted by the division bench of the high court headed by the Chief Justice.
In the order, the two judges observed that the contemnor (Khongjirem) did not even offer unconditional apology but simply stated that he was sorry any act construed as contempt as the same was not done willfully or intentionally.
During the hearing, SP Mahanta, the counsel of Khongjirem, submitted that the contemnor was the only bread winner in the family and his youngest child is just six months old.
On being asked, the contemnor stated that his family has a holding of over 100 hectares of land.
Thus, the court found submission of Mahanta unacceptable. State legal counsel ND Chullai, appearing on behalf of the State also pleaded to the Court for taking a lenient view on the question of sentence and suggested that looking to the background and circumstances of the case, one month’s sentence would suffice to meet the ends of justice.
Jubilation: The ten affected families of Wahkhen, who were allegedly deprived of PDS items in the past by the Sordar Skhembor Khongjirem, are jubilant over his arrest following the High Court intervention.
One of the residents on Thursday said that the Sordar had deprived 10 families of Wahkhen essential PDS items which compelled them to approach a Shillong-based pressure group for intervention.
After the intervention of the pressure group, the Sordar was compelled to distribute PDS items to the affected villages, but it was not out of his free will, the resident added.