‘No hidden agenda in ruling against Rangbah Shnong’

SHILLONG: The day after the sensational hearing on contempt case against KHADC CEM, website of High Court of Meghalaya on Wednesday rejected the “hidden agenda” theory saying that the Court is not against tribal customs and traditions, but only made pronouncements on “unreasonable” aspects of it.
In the six-page order, Justice SR Sen referring to the impugned order, stripping the Rangbah Shnong of the powers to issue NOCs, stated, “The author of the judgment passed in WP(C) No. 363 of 2014 had never written any judgment or order with any hidden agenda. A Judge does not have any caste, religion or language or any personal agenda and he is above all those practices and his only motive is to render justice and to ensure that rule of law to prevail and dignity of the Constitution is upheld.”
Reiterating his point that the judgement in question is not against any traditional practices, Justice Sen said, “I mentioned that this Court is not against any custom or usage or against any practice unless it is unreasonable. Customs and usages cannot be rigid but are always flexible and change with times as per the requirements of the people at large. It is also a fact that, there was no such practice for a headman to issue NOC or to interfere with the work of the District Administration as well as Police Administration.”
“No custom or usage can supersede the statutory law and fundamental rights of a person as granted by the Constitution of India, so, any practice or usage which is contradictory with  the Constitution of India, statute or principle of natural justice cannot continue. Truth and rule of law to prevail and dignity of Constitution to be upheld at any cost,” the order stated.
While ruling on the criminal contempt of court case against the CEM, KHADC, Adelbert Nongrum, Justice Sen also took note of the prevailing situation that warranted the imposition of Section 144 CrPC in and around the High Court premises. Earlier attempts were made by some newly formed NGO the Hynniewtrep Youth Council (HYC) a breakaway faction of the Khasi Students’ Union, to mobilise a crowd to show solidarity with Nongrum.
It may be reminded that Justice SR Sen had given a landmark ruling on December 10, 2014 stripping the Rangbah Shnong of the authority to issue No Objection Certificates on the plea that they acted like a ‘parallel government.’ The ruling was based on a petition filed by some villagers who were socially ostracised by the Dorbar Shnong.
Following this judgment the CEM, KHADC, Adelbert Nongrum had challenged the High Court ruling stating that there is a ‘hidden agenda’ in it. Later the Court filed a case of criminal contempt against Nongrum and the editors of two English dailies (including this paper) for reporting the matter.
Later the case against the two journalists was dropped as the Court said, ‘they were performing their journalistic duties.’

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