Chief Justice, his team emerge newsmakers

A year of judicial activism

Chief Justice of Meghalaya High Court Uma Nath Singh and his team Justice TNK Singh and
Justice SR Sen.

SHILLONG: When the executive failed, judicial activism has paved the way to have emergency in addressing varied issues confronting the state in 2015 thanks to the initiative of Chief Justice of Meghalaya High Court Uma Nath Singh and his team Justice TNK Singh and Justice SR Sen.
Despite criticism from various quarters on the suggestion of High Court of Meghalaya to implement AFSPA to contain militancy in Garo Hills, and also for restricting media from publishing news related to any forms of agitations, the initiative taken by the Court to speed up the expansion of Umroi Airport pending since several years, was noteworthy.
Moreover, after the High Court banned bandhs in state on May 27, there was not a single instance of any organization calling bandhs in Meghalaya which compelled many organizations to take recourse to other forms of protests including holding rallies, public meetings and resorting to hunger strikes.
The suggestion to implement AFSPA though rejected by both the Centre and the State, however, has acted as a blessing in disguise as this compelled police to pull up its socks to ensure normalcy in Garo Hills. There were a series of arrests, encounters with militants and surrenders of cadres following the order.
The immediate response of the High Court order on AFSPA was that GNLA released the abducted Chokpot BDO Jude Rangku T Sangma.
The High Court had also taken suo motu action against any discrimination of mentally ill persons in Meghalaya and had also taken into task some traditional heads, who had deprived people’s rights in the villages.
The intervention of the Court to define the powers of headmen has also resulted in both the State and KHADC-JHADC waking up to make laws to strengthen the traditional institutions.
The threat posed by high rise buildings in city which is under seismic zone 5, was addressed by the High Court through a series of orders aimed at restricting the heights of the buildings.
The latest order of the Court following a PL to extend the MUDA by laws to all the Master Plan areas of the state was also intended to ensure safety and security of the people in the event of any calamity.
The Judiciary had put pressure on the Executive to deliver the goods and in the process, several officers were summoned though there was displeasure on the part of the officers in this regard. A significant directive of the High Court was to ensure the formation of State Human Rights Commission at the earliest as per the order of the Supreme Court.
Though the dual post issue is still pending with the High Court for final order, the issue compelled the state government to frame a Bill to restrict MLAs from holding the post of MDCs.