Meghalaya court dismisses Garo rebel chief’s plea

Shillong, June 13 (IANS) In a setback to the jailed chief of the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) rebel outfit, Champion R. Sangma, the Meghalaya High Court Thursday dismissed his petition challenging his detention under the Meghalaya Preventive Detention Act (MPDA).

Rejecting the plea of Sangma’s counsel Sujit Dey that the detention of Sangma under the MPDA was “illegal” as the order did not specify reasons, Justice S.R.Sen said the court did not find any error in the detention order and its subsequent proceedings.

“I find no scope to interfere with the impugned detention order dated 29.1.2013, hence, this instant writ petition is rejected and accordingly stands disposed of,” Sen said in his judgment.

On Jan 29, East Garo Hills Deputy Commissioner Vijay Kumar Mantri had booked Sangma under the MPDA on various charges, including waging war against the country and heading a banned outfit.

Sangma’s counsel also argued that his client has not been informed of his rights to make representation to the central government and that his representation before the district magistrate had remained pending and violated the provision of the MPDA, 1995.

Additional public prosecutor K. Khan said there was nothing wrong in the detention order nor any provision has been violated as the detenue was informed about his rights to make his representation to the state government and the same was disposed of in time.

Sangma, a rogue police officer now lodged in Shillong jail, was booked under the act for waging war against the government after his arrest July 30, 2012, near the India-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya.

The Meghalaya government had booked Sangma under the MPDA for being the originator, mentor and founder of the GNLA which, it said, is a militant outfit that had unleashed a reign of terror in the state and waged war against the constitutionally formed and elected sovereign government of the day for creation of a Garo national entity.

An accused can be detained for a maximum of three years under the state law and bail is granted only after an advisory board chaired by a retired judge gives a decision.

Sangma has also been booked for eight cases under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including waging war against the state, kidnapping for ransom and murder as well as violations of the Arms Act.

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