Shillong, April 30: The Meghalaya High Court on Thursday held the Sordar (traditiol chief) of Wahkhen in East Khasi Hills district Skhembor Khongjirem “guilty” and awarded twenty days of imprisonment to him along with a fine of Rs 1000.
The quantum of the punishment was delivered after the hearing by a division bench comprising Chief Justice Umath Singh and Justice TNK Singh. On Wednesday, the division bench had held the Sordar guilty for contempt of the court order issued by Justice SR Sen.
Khongjirem was recently reported by a section of the media as saying that he has been issuing certificates, since many villages visited him for certificates, either for opening of a bank account or for submission to the government departments to avail various schemes.
This is in total contravention of Meghalaya High Court order issued by Justice SR Sen which stated, “a village or a locality headman did not derive any right from law, and rule or from the Constitution of India to issue No objection certificates (NOCs) for the purpose of birth and death or for registration of any documents as well as for building permissions and obtaining loan”.
Khongjirem was pulled up by the court for alleged contempt of its orders and sent to judicial custody yesterday. After hearing the contemnor counsel SP Mahanta and the State government lawyer ND Shullai, the Meghalaya High Court in its judgement on Thursday stated, “For the foregoing reasons and discussions, we are of the considered view that there is complete lack of bofide on the part of the contemnor in tendering his apology for the reasons that: (i) He made an attempt to justify his press statement only on the ground that he being a villager from a remote village has no knowledge of the consequence of making statement and openly challenging the authority of the court by disobeying the order of the court and scandalizing the Highest Court of the State”.
The verdict also reads, “He boldly admitted his press statement before this court; And, he made a conditiol apology if any of his act is construed as contempt”. “In the premises discussed hereibove, we hold that the contemnor has willfully and deliberately scandalized the court and openly defied the authority of the court. Thus, he is held guilty of committing crimil contempt which is punishable under Section 12 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 and Article 215 of the Constitution of India,” stated the order.