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Qualification row: Rio appears in court

By EMN Updated: Oct 22, 2016 12:10 am

‘I came to appear before the court to show that I am innocent’

Lok Sabha MP Neiphiu Rio arriving to appear at the court of Judicial Magistrate First Class, Kohima.

DIMAPUR, OCTOBER 21 : The chessboard intrigue that has recently come to dominate Naga politics was delivered its biggest move yet when Lok Sabha member Neiphiu Rio on Friday came to appear before the court to testify in connection with his alleged false affidavit case.

Rio’s appearance at the court of the Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC), Kohima – by no means a bold political statement to his detractors – was also to show the Naga public that he has nothing to hide from. “I came to appear before the court to show that I am innocent,” he told reporters outside the court.
According to the MP even the public was aware of the facts pertaining to his case: the authorities of Kohima Arts College under NEHU have already rectified the error in the academic document, and that they have even offered a public apology through the newspapers.

In the profile of the Nagaland Legislative Assembly from 1989 till 2013, Rio pointed out, his academic qualification has been listed as BA pass, and not BA with honours in Political Science. Even in the Lok Sabha ‘Bioprofile’, in display on its website, his educational qualification has been provided as “BA educated at Kohima College”, he said. “If I wanted to misuse it, then I would have used BA honours. But I did not.”

On the assertion by his legal counsel that the case against him was a political vendetta, Rio was asked what makes his case any different to that of chief minister, TR Zeliang who is also facing a court case for allegedly submitting false academic affidavits.

He replied that in his case “the public already knows everything” and that he was ready to face the court and prove his innocence. The MP was also asked if he was in a political war with chief minister TR Zeliang.

“No, I have no political war with anyone. If there is any, then I don’t know about it,” Rio answered. He was escorted in and out of the court complex by hundreds of supporters who had gathered with placards displaying their support to the MP.

Later on, he told his supporters that he had no problem appearing before the court. “As the accused person, I was given the summon letter. I could have chosen not to go and let my counsel appear on my behalf. But I volunteered to go.”

Rio’s lead counsel also told reporters that his client had appeared before the court on Friday “as a law-abiding citizen.”

Court defers hearing to November 11

The Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC), Kohima, Tucuno Vamuzo was on Friday scheduled to hear on the case. But neither the complainant, Dr Rosemary Dzüvichü, nor her counsel turned up at the hearing. The court however noted in its record that the accused had appeared before the court on Friday.

It was informed that they (the complainants) had applied for more time, prompting the JMFC to defer the hearing to November 11 next. It is worth noting that in its September 23 ruling, the District and Sessions Judge Court, Kohima had transferred the case from the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) to the court of the JMFC.

On that day the complainant’s counsel had argued that the CJM would not be “biased and prejudiced” in her judgment, as suggested by the respondent’s counsel. After hearing both the arguments, the District and Sessions Judge delivered his judgement.

“…the present complaint case file in the court of CJM U/S 210 CrPC which says that where there is a complaint case and police case in the same offence, both the complaint case and case arising out of police report shall be tried together as if both were instituted on a police report.

“When the jurisdiction is distributed U/S 210 CrPC and the jurisdiction falls under North PS with the JMFC it is very surprising as to how CJM has violated her own order and for what interest she has taken into her file both cases. If she had no ulterior motive she could have transferred both the cases to the court of JMFC under the provision of Sec 210 CrPC,” it had ruled.

Rosemary knocks on High Court door

Following the order passed by the District & Session Judge, Kohima, to transfer the case against Neiphiu Rio from the court of the CJM to the JMFC court, the complainant Dr Rosemary Dzüvichü has challenged the order today at the Gauhati High Court Kohima Bench.

The matter, heard by Justice S Serto, has stayed the proceedings of both the criminal complaint case against Rio and the GR (Government Registered) case. (Note: GR case is related to the FIR, which coincidentally was filed by two senior NPF workers, S Shingnyu Khiam and BP Hanghuh – both members of the Disciplinary Action Committee that recommended the suspension of Rio from NPF)

Three weeks’ time has been given to the counsel of the respondent to file entry appearance at the High court, it was learned. Before representing a client at court during a civil case, a lawyer must first file an entry of appearance asking the court to enter the lawyer’s appearance on behalf of the client.

Talking to Eastern Mirror, one of the counsels representing the complainant said that they, as of today, were not to discuss the merit of the case, but challenge the order of the District & Session Judge to transfer the case to the court of the JMFC.

By EMN Updated: Oct 22, 2016 12:10:19 am