News Alert

Court orders NGOs to pay 50-lakh damage

A Correspondent
Tura (Meghalaya), June 27, 2010:  In a landmark judgment in defamation case, the court has ordered NGOs in Meghalaya to pay a hefty compensation of 50 lakhs to senior state government official Santosh R Marak, after a sensational three-year legal battle that nearly stirred civil unrest in the Garo Hills.

In a recent judgment the district court of West Garo Hills has asked Garo Students' Union (southern zone), Youth Development Vigilance Committee, Mother Union (Garo Hills), and Southern Youth and Cultural Organisation  to pay a compensation of 50 lakhs as damages to SR Marak.

West Garo Hills additional deputy commissioner and district magistrate, R.S. Sangma, passed the order after its final hearing to the case (DM-S-1/2008) held on June 2 last. The court directive vindicated all corruption charges levelled against Marak and decreed against 10 defendants who were representatives of the NGOs.

“The plaintiff (SR Marak) is entitled to a decree for a sum of Rs. 50,00,000 as prayed for payable jointly and severally by all the 10 defendants (members of NGOs),” reads the order issued by the civil judge Sangma.   

In 2007, the NGOs falsely implicated Marak, who was then posted as former additional deputy commissioner and additional district magistrate at Baghmara, of misappropriating SSA Mid Day Meal Scheme and other development funds of South Garo Hills. In this wake the Garo Hills based organisations went on record alleging the senior official of embezzling public fund and planted series of false and malicious reports in local papers.

Further, the organisations launched a poster campaign purportedly to incite public sentiment in their favour against Marak. They also made demand to the state government to remove him from his post by calling indefinite bandh in South Garo Hills on July 24, 2008.

Marak, after his repeated demand to furnish proof against the charges failed to evoke any response from the NGOs, filed for damages in the civil court at Baghmara in 2008. The case was later trasferred to the district court at Tura.

In the mean time, the NGOs also made many attempts to derail the case by challenging the jurisdiction of the court and filed an appeal to try the suit at Gauhati High Court (Shillong Bench), which dismissed their appeal subsequently.      

Marak, a cadre of Meghalaya Civil Service, is currently posted as civil SDO of Resubalpara, East Garo Hills.