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Meghalaya High Court issues suo motu contempt notice against State Home Secretary

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The Meghalaya High Court has issued a suo motu contempt notice to the Secretary in the Home Department of the state for deliberately disregarding an order of the High Court, seeking report on action taken against misuse of official vehicles by the Police Department and embezzlement of funds over their purchase.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice W. Diengdoh issued the notice on a PIL filed by Riewad Vicharwant Warjri and another.

The notice was returnable on November 2, noted the Court, while stating that the state government had tried to obfuscate the issue and stand as an impediment to a fact-finding exercise in the matter of defalcation of public funds.

The High Court noted that the petition was not filed immediately upon the publication of the articles. Considerable time had elapsed between the initial publication and the filing of the petition. It has been evident that the petitioners waited for some action to be taken by the appropriate authorities and, upon finding no action being initiated, brought the complaint to the Court.  

The court wanted the department to ensure that the rule was drawn up immediately and personally served on the state government.

On September 30, the court had directed the State of Meghalaya to file a report on October 17, through the Secretary in the Home Department, indicating the effective measures taken, including arresting any attempt by those prima facie found to be involved in the racket to remove or dissipate or hide their assets or funds.

However, no report or affidavit was filed by the concerned secretary.

The High Court further directed the Home Secretary to file a detailed report on the quantum of the perceived loss, the extent of the abuse of authority, the manner of misuse of vehicles and the prima facie affixation of responsibility should be available in court on November 2.

The Bench said it hoped that the state would deal with the matter with the seriousness that it deserved.

An affidavit filed by the state informed that the Office of the Director General of Police, Meghalaya, has submitted a report of the Enquiry Committee to the Department on October 11, along with the article of charges and articles of imputation against the erring officer.

The department said that after examining the matter with the approval of the competent authority, departmental proceeding against the officer has been initiated.

The High Court further took into consideration the September 30, 2022 order, which called upon the State to file a report through the Secretary in the Home Department, indicating the effective measures taken, including arresting any attempt by those prima facie found to be involved in the racket to remove or dissipate or secret their assets or funds. The report was required to be filed on October 17, 2022.  

The Court observed that such farce was never repeated before a court of law, the perfunctory and most insulting report was set out in its entirety.

The case was heard on September 30, 2022 and the High Court vide order dated July 30, 2022 was pleased to direct the State Respondent to file a report on October 17, 2022. 

The Office of the Director General of Police, Meghalaya, Shillong on October 11, 2022 submitted an affidavit of the Enquiry Committee to the Department along with the Article of Charges and Articles of imputation against the erring officer.

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