City court disposes of Rs 31-cr ILP damage suit

Govt rapped for laxity, lawyer to appeal against order

SHILLONG: The judicial magistrate has disposed of an over Rs 31-crore damage suit against ILP agitators observing that there was laxity on the part of the government.
The government had filed the damage suit after three people were killed and properties worth crores of rupees were damaged by miscreants during the pro-ILP agitation sponsored by 14 pressure groups in 2012-13.
According to the recent order of the judicial magistrate, Shillong, BM Sangma ‘perusal of the record shows that in spite of umpteen opportunities given to the plaintiff (government), the plaintiff has remained absent for the last several days without taking any steps’.
The court went on to add that “it appears that the plaintiff is no longer interested in pursuing this instant case against the defendants (pressure groups)”. “Moreover, laxity of the plaintiff cannot be countenanced further. Accordingly, this instant suit is dismissed for default and non-prosecution”, the order said.
When contacted, a government lawyer dealing with the case said he was not aware of the verdict as he had not received any notices regarding the matter in the past.
“The matter was supposed to be taken up by the Sessions Court”, he said.
“We will file a petition against the order of the court”, he added.
Out of 14 pressure groups, only Civil Society Women’s Organisation (CSWO), Synjuk Seng Samla Shnong (SSSS) and All India Garo Union (AIGU) had contested the case by appointing lawyers, MF Qureshi and K Sunar.
Other 12 pressure groups, who did not contest the case, are KSU, FKJGP, GSU, HNYF, All Jaintia Youth Welfare Organisation (AJYWO), Jaintia Youth Federation (JYF), Jaintia Students’ Union (JSU), Ri Bhoi Youth Federation (RBYF), Khasi Women Welfare and Development Association (KWWADA), Association of Democratic Empowerment (ADE) and A’chik Youth Welfare Organisation (AYWO).
Earlier, the Congress-led government had set up a special court on November 7, 2013 to pursue the damage suit.
The government had filed the case under the provisions of Meghalaya Maintenance of Public Order (MMPO) Act and based on the Supreme Court order banning bandhs and other forms of agitations.
The government wanted to recover over Rs 31 crore from the pressure groups for the damage during the agitation by them.
Out of the 129 criminal cases registered by the police, 92 cases were charge-sheeted in 2014.
Under pressure, the state government in 2015 withdrew 92 cases filed against the leaders of several pressure groups for damage to property of individuals and the government, arson and assault resulting in injuries among others.
During the period of agitation, while two persons died after miscreants threw petrol bombs, a woman died of suffocation from smoke after miscreants threw a petrol bomb in a shop in the city.

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