Shillong, July 12: A petition was on Wednesday submitted to Meghalaya Assembly Speaker, AT Mondal by various civil society organizations demanding immediate removal of rape accused MLA, Julius Dorphang from two Assembly committees.
The petition was submitted through Assembly Commissioner and Secretary, Andrew Simons.
Dorphang who is the MLA of Mawhati, has been charge sheeted under Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses (POCSO) Act in connection with a case of human trafficking and sexual abuse of a 14-year-old.
Dorphang, was chargesheeted under Section 5(c)/(1)/6 of POCSO Act, 2012 for “committing aggravated penetrative sexual assault by a public servant and committing the same more than once”.
The petition signed by activists representing various groups expressed grave concern over the appointment of Dorphang into two important House committees – the Privileges Committee and Committee on Subordinate Legislation.
“Such an appointment of someone who is accused of raping a minor at a time when the charge sheet has been filed and the trial has just begun indicates an arrogance of power which is an intimidation to the victim who is a child, witnesses, even investigating officials,” the petition said.
Stating that Dorphang has been booked under POCSO Act which specifies that an accused is guilty till proven innocent, the petition said that the burden of proof lies on the accused.
“Nomination of a child rape accused to a house committee sends out the message that offenders and perpetrators will be accommodated normalising further promoting of such heinous crimes which would further promote such heinous crime and a climate of impunity for criminals,” it said.
“This action not only demoralizes women and children who have been victims of sexual crimes such as rape, trafficking and murder but is an insult to all women and children in the state as a whole,” the petition said, while strongly demanding the immediate removal of Dorphang from these committees to set the right precedence for the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly.
The petition also said that POCSO has specific provisions according more severe punishment to persons in public positions who sexually assault children and under which Dorphang has been booked and for which he has been under judicial custody.