Former MLA and HNLC founder sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment for raping a minor

Former legislator of Mawhati Julius Dorphang was on Tuesday sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment along with a fine of Rs 15 lakh imposed by a POCSO court for raping a 14-year-old girl.

The order was issued by the Special Judge Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO), FS Sangma in Ri-Bhoi district Meghalaya.

Dorphang was a former chairman and founder of the banned Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) before he surrendered in 2007. He later contested and won from the Mawahati constituency in 2013.

The former MLA was accused of raping a 14-year-old in 2017. Following the allegation of rape, Dorphang absconded and was later nabbed from Guwahati ISBT. The legislator was arrested and booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act. Earlier last year, he was granted bail on medical grounds by the Meghalaya High Court by a single bench.

Confirming this, Dorphang’s attorney, Kishore Ch Gautam said that the court pronounced the conviction on Tuesday.

Dorphang was among 12 people arrested for being involved in an illegal sex trafficking ring in the state based on nine FIRs filed by the state Commission for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR). On January 4, 2017, a district court filed a non-bailable warrant against Dorphang, following which he went into hiding.

The court also sentenced Mamoni Parveen, Darisha Mary Kharbamon, and Sandeep Biswa to life imprisonment in the same case besides imposing a fine of Rs one lakh each.

However his lawyer Kishore Ch Gautam has said there is the scope of filing an appeal against this conviction, adding that he is likely to file an appeal before the High Court next week.

“I will also be filing a miscellaneous application to suspend the sentence so that he (Dorphang) can come out on bail. We are all aware that he is unwell,” Gautam said.

The former Mawhati MLA was sentenced concerning the FIR filed at Ri-Bhoi on January 5, 2017, adding that there was another FIR filed in Shillong in December 2016 in connection with the same case whose trial is still on before the Special Judge (POCSO) at Jowai. “Both the cases should be clubbed together. You cannot have two separate trials for the same case,” Gautam added.

However, the legislator was arrested and booked under the POCSO Act and Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act. He was rearrested and convicted again on August 13 this year and tried at the POCSO court.

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