|‘Something is rotten in the State of Meghalaya’|
SHILLONG, Nov 3 - “Something is rotten in the State of Denmark,” is how a single bench Judge described the infamous Education department scam in Meghalaya, a few years back, by quoting Shakespeare’s line from Hamlet.
The Meghalaya High Court in its judgment yesterday went a step further and hauled up the Congress-led State Government for trying to “cover-up and give the ghosts of the scam a decent burial” through the High Level Scrutiny Committee (HLSC).
“If the Government concerned was true to its duties … it would have, after receiving the half-hearted report of HLSC, taken the things to their logical conclusion by issuing necessary orders for booking the polluters,” the High Court stated.
The HLSC was constituted after the State Government insisted before the Court to “re-investigate” the scam in the recruitment process. This after the CBI indicted then Education Minister Ampareen Lyngdoh and other legislators, together with senior officials of the Education department in the scam.
“We have not an iota of doubt that the exercise in the name of HLSC was farcical and was only a cover-up, aimed at saving and shielding the persons who had, with impunity, hijacked and polluted the system and who ought to have been brought to book and ought to have been sternly dealt with,” the Division bench of the High Court observed.
The Court was critical about the working of the HLSC which had “hard facts staring on the face of the record,” of legislators’ involvement in the scam, but “choose a softer course.”
“Relating to the questionable interference in the selection process by the public representatives, HLSC only framed the phraseology on morality and thereafter, left the matter to be taken care of ‘in future’ while, perhaps, assuming as if such pretentious propositions would be enough to give a decent burial to the ghost of this scam,” the High Court observed.
The Division bench comprising of Chief Justice said that if the “polluters of public morality are not brought to book it shall be a travesty of justice and shall shake the faith of entire society in the system which is governed by the rule of law.”
Some of the legislators who have been indicted by the CBI and also confirmed by the HSLC are Deputy Chief Minister RC Laloo, former Cabinet Ministers, Sniawbhalang Dhar, Ronnie V Lyngdoh, Prestone Tynsong, AL Hek, former Speaker and Deputy Speaker Charles Pyngrope and Sanbor Shullai respectively and other legislators.
Most of these legislators had written in their official pads to the then Education Minister recommending names of candidates, which were examined by the HSLC as documentary proof of evidence.
Then the Minister along with officials from the Education department allegedly indulged in mass manipulation of the scores and “denied the appointment of deserving candidates and selected the unqualified, meritless and undeserving.”
The High Court noted that the “vastness and magnitude of manipulations” could be noticed from the HLSC findings that “a whopping 268 out of 365 appointed” were tainted. This “means that nearly 70 per cent of the appointed candidates were found tainted,” the Court observed.
After making these remarks, the High Court handed over the criminal aspect of the case to the CBI. On matters related to the civil aspect of the case, the Court directed the Government to form a new scrutiny committee, but with caveats.
This time the committee must have three members headed by the Chief Secretary. The other two members must be officials having “impeccable integrity” from the State Civil Services and another from any Central or State Educational Institution or University.