Organisations petition Speaker to drop Julius Dorphang from House Committees
BY A CORRESPONDENT
Shillong, July 12: Various civil society organizations of Meghalaya on Wednesday sent a representation to Meghalaya Assembly Speaker Abu Taher Mondal demanding removal of Independent legislator from Mawhati Julius Dorphang, who is in jail on the charge of raping a 13-year-old girl, from House Committees.
In the letter to Mondal, the groups said that the nomition of a child rape accused to House Committees and extending his term in another send out a wrong message that offenders and perpetrators will be accommodated, if not rewarded, thereby emboldening such elements and promoting heinous crimes as they will get a sense of impunity.
“This action not only demoralizes women and children who have been victims of sexual crimes such as rape, trafficking and murder, but is an insult to all women and children in the State as a whole,” the letter to the Meghalaya Assembly Speaker stated.
The letter also states that such “insensitive and ill-conceived” decisions by public representatives who are sworn to uphold constitutiol guarantees of safety and security for all citizens, particularly women and children, lead to a loss of faith in the system, prompting citizens to take law into their own hands and promotes a culture of vigilantism.
Expressing grave concern over the nomition of Dorphang into one House Committee and extending his term in another, the civil society groups said that such a move indicates an arrogance of power. The civil society groups are livid that all these responsibilities have been given to someone who is not only an accused in the rape of a minor, but comes at a time when the charge sheet in the case has already been filed and the trial has just begun. Dorphang has not only been accused of raping a minor, but also intimidating the child victim, witnesses in the case and the investigating officials.
“Mr J Dorphang has been booked under the POCSO Act, which specifies that an accused is guilty until proven innocent and that the burden of proof lies on the accused,” the letter stated.
The letter by the civil society groups to the Meghalaya Assembly Speaker also stated that POCSO Act has specific provisions of awarding severe punishment to persons holding high public positions who sexually assault children, under which the Mawhati legislator has been booked and is in judicial custody.
“In the light of these provisions, nomition of Mr Julius Dorphang is an affront to the spirit and letter of the Act, which seeks first and foremost to uphold the protection, safety and rights of children,” the representation to the Assembly Speaker states.
It may be mentioned that Dorphang is a member of the Committee of Privileges and the Committee on Subordite Legislation.
Saleng A. Sangma is the Chairman of the Committee of Privileges. The other members of the Committee of Privileges include Winnerson D. Sangma and Dikkanchi D. Shira (both from the Congress) and United Democratic Party legislator Paul Lyngdoh.
Dorphang, who is supporting the ruling Congress-led Meghalaya United Alliance government, has also been appointed on the Committee on Subordite Legislation headed by tiolist Congress Party legislator Sanbor Shullai.
The other members include Saleng Sangma, United Democratic Party legislator Titosstarwell Chyne and Hill State People’s Democratic Party legislator Phlastingwell Pangniang.