Jailed Meghalaya MLA appointed to assembly panels
Shillong, July 10 (IANS): Meghalaya legislator Julius Dorphang, accused of raping a minor girl, has been appointed a member of two assembly panels, evoking a strong opposition from a women’s group. Dorphang, who is lodged in Shillong jail and facing trial in the case of raping a 14-year-old girl, was appointed a member of the Committee of Privileges and the Committee on Subordinate Legislation.
The Meghalaya assembly had issued a notification on the constitution of various committees on July 7. Opposition Independent legislator Saleng A. Sangma, who is the Chairman of the Committee of Privileges, said that it was the Speaker’s prerogative to appoint members of the House to various assembly committees. “It is the Speaker’s prerogative. I have nothing to comment on it,” Saleng told IANS. IANS was unable to reach Speaker Abu Taher Mondal for comment.
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 Subordinate Legislation headed by Nationalist 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. The Civil Society Women’s Organisation (CSWO) has strongly opposed the appointment of Dorphang as member of the assembly panels.
“We strongly oppose this appointment… is this what Meghalaya government awarding the alleged rapist instead of speeding up justice for the victim,” CSWO President Agnes Kharshiing said. Earlier this year, the Meghalaya Police had chargesheeted Dorphang and five others in a case of human trafficking and sexual abuse of the minor girl. Dorphang has been chargesheeted under Section 5(c)/(1)/6 of the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, for “committing aggravated penetrative sexual assault by a public servant and committing the same more than once”.